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MEXICO CITY

ATTRACTIONS OUTSIDE THE
HISTORICAL CENTRE


-The Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe - Church, is the most visited Temple in all the Country. Every twelfth of December thousands of believers gather here to worship the Virgen de Guadalupe, patron of the Mexican people and who is a symbol of the unity of the Nation regarding its racial and cultural mixture.

This devotion started to take form in 1531, when the Virgin made an appearance to the person of indigenous origin Juan Diego, to ask him to raise a church on that spot. The request came true and the church was raised.

With the passing of time the humble hermitage kept growing, at the same rate as the growth of the faith to the image. So it became necessary to build a majestic Basilica Church that, despite its large dimensions, seemed always too small to the eyes of the faithful. Moreover, its structures started to sink and its walls to present crevices. For that reason the idea of a new temple was born, one that would be located at the front of the older one.

And so, a dream became reality. In the present days, the new Basilica de la Virgen de Guadalupe shows modern lines and a solid construction based on concrete and steel. Designed by the Mexican architect Pedro Ramirez Vasquez, it comprises a circular layout with a capacity of 10 thousand devotees. The works of this gigantic "House of God" were concluded in 1976. Since then, the most revered image of Mexico and the cloak of Juan Diego are venerated in its interior.

Nowadays, the old Basilica is a museum that keeps an interesting collection of colonial paintings. It is located on the Calzada de Guadalupe, in the North of the City.

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  • -The Plaza Garibaldi - Square. Great numbers of "mariachis" gather here to play their "rancheras" songs well into the night. And while the sounds of voices combine with that of violins and trumpets, a mouth watering smell wets our appetite. There is no other choice that to taste some of the typical delicacies that are sold in this Square that blends both tradition and modernity.

    Located at only few minutes from the Historical Centre, the Garibaldi Square is a charming place, where the statues portraying the main characters of the Mexican music can be seen, like the ones of Jose Alfredo Jimenez and Lola Beltran.

    The Zona Rosa - Rose Zone
    This was one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods of the City by the late 19th century. In the present days, its aristocratic streets contain luxurious restaurants, picturesque coffee shops, fanciful boutiques, colourful craft stores, besides hotels, commercial offices of all kinds and restless night clubs.

    Some big European styled casona mansions are still preserved from the days of exclusive splendour, as the one that arrogantly stands on number 10 London Street. Designed by the architect Antonio Rivas Mercado, the once luxurious dwelling now holds the Wax Museum of the City.

    The decline of the Zona Rosa was triggered by the Mexican Revolution (1910 - 1921). Little by little its residential spirit mutated, occasioned by the airs of renewal that aroused in Mexico, in the hands of men and their machines that constructed new buildings, like the one that belongs to the Secretaria de Salubridad (1921) The Public Health Office and the one of the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (1951)¨The Mexican Social Security Institute.

    It is located at the southern part of the Avenida Reforma Avenue, in the Colonia Juarez, between the Historical Centre and the Chapultepec Park.

    The Bosque de Chapultepec - Forest
    This is the biggest park in Mexico City. A beautiful forest of ahuehuetes (a North American tree with a wood resembling that of the cypress) and with a majestic castle at the top of a mountain, results in the perfect refuge to rest from the urban shrillness.

    Chapultepec is a word in the nahuatl tongue which means "mountain of the grasshoppers". It has an area of four square kilometres, in which, besides the forest and the castle there are an amusement park and some places with cultural interest like the Museo Nacional de Antropologia National Museum Anthropology or the Monumento a los Niños Heroes (Monument to the Heroic Children), which reveals the fascinating history of this Country and the gratitude of the Nation to the child soldiers that were killed during the North American invasion of 1847.

    The origins of this Park go back to the 15th century, being its founder -to use some word- a king of Texcoco (a Pre Hispanic people) called Netzahualcoyotl. The Aztecs will then arrive to settle their summer houses, then the Spanish viceroys and lately, the chiefs of state. Today, the green hills of Chapultepec are one of the main attractions in the largest city of the world.

    -The Castillo de Chapultepec - Castle. Atop the foundations of a temple and an Aztec palace, which indeed was the last bastion in their fight against the Spaniards, was erected this amazing construction that mixes several different architectonic styles. The story goes that in 1780 the viceroy Bernardo de Galvez thought of the place as perfect for the relaxation and amusement of the higher colonial authorities, hence ordering the construction of the actual castle.

    In 1841 the castle was chosen to serve as seat of the Academia Militar Military Academy. Some time later, in 1847 to be more specific, a group of very young cadets resisted to death the invasion troops of the United States army. Their heroic deed receives in the present homage in the Monumento a los Niños Heroes.

    But Chapultepec regained its aristocratic condition in 1863, when the emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Charlotte picked it as its residence. A second body was then added to the façade and a walkway to connect it with the centre of the City was made.

    During the period of government of Porfirio Diaz (1876 - 1911), the Castle -by then the official residence of the Mexican presidents since 1871- reaches its full splendour. The halls and rooms were decorated in the purest French style, and the walkway was beautified and renamed the Paseo de la Reforma.

    Chapultepec ceased functioning as the presidential house in 1939, by a decision made by president Lazaro Cardenas. And so, in 1944 its rooms were transformed into the halls of the Museo Nacional de Historia National History Museum.
    • The Museo Nacional de Historia - National History Museum. Its 20 halls exhibit documents that enable the knowledge of the evolution of the Nation from the Spanish Conquest to the Revolution. It also shows some reproductions of Aztec codices and from other Pre Hispanic civilizations, besides several mural paintings done by famed Mexican artist as Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. It was inaugurated in 1944.
    -The Galeria de Historia - Gallery of History, also known as Museo Caracol or Snail Museum, because of its circular shape. In its 12 halls the history of Mexico is depicted, starting from the fall of the Spaniards to the signature of the Constitution of 1917. It is oriented towards the youth and children with smart and amusing explanations. It was built in 1960 and is located close by the Castle of Chapultepec.

    -The Museo Nacional de Antropologia - National Museum of Anthropology, inaugurated on September of 1964, is undoubtedly one of the most important of the world in its speciality. It contains more than ten thousand original pieces that are exhibited in 23 rooms, which unravel the origins of the pre- Hispanic civilizations that developed in the Mexican territory or also that show the different contemporary cultural expressions from the actual indigenous groups of the Country.

    The premise of the Museum was designed by the Mexican Architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, who got inspired by the Mayan ruins of the Cuadrangulo de las Monjas de Uxmal. It is sited at the heart of the Park of Chapultepec and occupies an area that fringes the 70 thousand square metres.

    -The Museo de Arte Moderno - Museum of Modern Art. Priceless works of contemporary art are exhibited here, in an architectonical space of curved and stylized lines. There are four halls and a gallery that resume the very best of paintings and sculpture in modern Mexico. There can be observed splendid works by Frida Kahlo, Rufino Tamayo , Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego de Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros among other artists, reunited in this shelter for creativity that was inaugurated in 1964. It is located at the hillside of the Chapultepec Park and was designed by Rafael Mijares and Pedro Ramirez Vazquez.

    -The Museo Rufino Tamayo - Museum, It comprises the collection of paintings and sculptures of this famed plastic artist of Oaxaca, as well as from other renowned geniuses of the brush, like Joan Miro, Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso, just to mention a few. It was inaugurated in 1981 and its design is a true example of contemporary aesthetics. It is also located in the Chapultepec Park.

    - The Museo del Papalote o Museo del Niño - Museum of the Papalote (Kite) or Museum of the Child, to acquire knowledge through games is the main idea of this museum designed with the child in mind. In its more than three hundred permanent expositions, the little ones get informed about scientific and technical issues while having fun at the same time. The word papalote means "butterfly" in the Nahuatl tongue, but is used to depict a kite for flying. The museum was inaugurated in 1993 and is located in Chapultepec.

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