Latin America, Mexico

Cultural Sites of Mexico City

Latin America Mexico

I discovered Mexico City in the summer of 2016 when I decided to take a solo trip for my birthday. I grew up in Southern California but surprisingly had never been to Mexico. Before leaving for Mexico City, I checked in with some friends who had lived there for a few years. I had heard that the air quality was terrible and that the city was dangerous and overcrowded but they quickly put my fears to rest, comparing the concerns to typical big cities that I had already visited like Buenos Aires, Paris and Bangkok and assured me I would have a great time. I ended up falling in love with the city and its rich culture and went back again for another week’s visit six months later.

There is a lot to do and much to love in this capital city of almost 9 million people – incredible restaurants, a wide range of architectural styles, warm and friendly people, a mix of cultural heritages and incredible shopping – but what captured my attention was the art and archaeology. I knew about the Maya and the Aztecs but the Olmecs? The Zapotecs? The Mixtecs? The Totonacs? Mexico truly has one of the most fascinating and layered histories of advanced cultures.

My favorites places to see:

  1. Casa Azul – Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s home and studio in Coyoacan. Frida was born and grew up in this house. She also spent much of her adult life with Diego here and eventually died there. Aside from many of her pieces, there is a vast collection of her personal items. Advice: buy your tickets in advance and spend the day walking around Coyoacan especially on a weekend day when there are great artisan markets.
  2. Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli – an incredible building, also located in Coyoacan, designed by Rivera that houses his enormous collection of pre-Columbian art
  3. Museo Casa Luis Barragan – the home and studio of one of Mexico’s most renowned architects. It was kept in its original state with furniture and artwork. Advice: advance reservations are required (often months in advance).
  4. Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso – beautiful old building in the historic district, next to the Templo Mayor, that houses a number of Diego Rivera murals.
  5. National Museum of Anthropology – considered one of the top in the world, this huge museum is located in the Chapultepec neighborhood. Allow a few hours to visit it to learn about many of the most important Mexican cultures.
  6. Museo del Templo Mayor – incredible ruins located in the middle of the historic center of the city. This is a good place to start when learning about the diverse Mexican cultures.

There are dozens of other great sites to see but the above, along with Teotihuacan (half or full day trip outside of the city), are truly the most breathtaking!

Contributed by Amy Dorra