The Spanish vs The Aztecs
Firstly we took a tour of the historic downtown zooming (well, as fast as the traffic would allow) along the main boulevard Paseo de la Reforma to the Centro Histórico. Mexico's explosive past is very well depicted by its central plaza, the Zócalo, which is the third largest plaza in the world. Surrounded by some of the finest buildings of the colonial era lie the remnants of one of the Aztecs' principal monuments, the Templo Mayor - now crushed under foot by the invading Spanish and their Catholic cathedral.
The pre-Hispanic civilisations that flourished throughout Mexico long ago and most of Mexico’s turbulent history since are beautifully depicted in the murals at the Palacio Nacional, which were painted by the famous Mexican artist and husband of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera.
Afterwards we visited the famous Anthropological Museum. Architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez's distinguished design provides the proper home for one of the finest archaeological collections in the world. Each salon on the museum's two floors displays artefacts from a particular Mexican geographic region or culture. The collection is so extensive - covering some 10,000 square metres - that you could easily spend a day here, and that might be barely adequate. We headed straight for the Aztec room though - death, decay, destruction, incredible stonework, human sacrifice, and fabulous feathers. What’s not to like?
After our tour finished we headed over to the Frida Kahlo museum - stopping on the way for some classic Mexican street food and coffee as we fought off the last of our jet lag.
What an amazing woman Frida Kahlo was...? Painter, poet, potter, photographer, and pioneer. Disabled by polio at 6, seriously maimed in a vehicle accident at 18, abused by her husband, she lived a bohemian life of art, politics, and passion.
The museum is very popular (top tip: buy your ticket online) but very well organised. We didn’t feel crowded out and there was lots to marvel at. Her paintings of course but also her house, her remarkable clothes, and even the mirror and chair wear she painted her amazing self-portraits.
No trip to Mexico City would be complete without a trip here.