We start our tour of Mexico city from one of it’s important religious centers the Notre Dame de Guadelupe Bassilica. This Bassilica was built in the 17th century. Every year at 12th of December people come here from all around the country. This is like the Fatima in Lisbon, a place of pilgrimage. People get on their knees and pray , or go directly into the Bassilica to pray for things they have received. Standing in front of the mural of Saint Mary inside the cathedral is a part of the said ceremony. They ve build a walking mechanism in front of this mural to avoid squeezing. Right next to the Bassilica is a modern cathedral.
In mexico, between the 1st and 3rd of November, the Holiday of the Dead is celebrated. Between these dates, Mexicans take large statues made of plaster to the cemeteries. They burn candles, and leave the food they ve brough on the graves. They spend their nights in the cemetery singing sons, eating and dancing. It is the literal definition of a holiday, a must see. This festival like activity lasting until the first lights of the morning lasts for 3 days. It is believed that after 3 days the dead return to their graves and with this ceremony the ancestors and the children meet with each other.
The best way to spend your afternoon is in Garibaldi square. This square is also called the “Mariachi square”. The square gets more crowded once the evening approaches, and musicians with traditional clothing coming from every part of the country performs their art on this square. This area acts as a meetin grounds for the tourists and the artists. You can arrange a performance with the musicians including how long the performance will last, and how many musicians you want to include in the performance. Then you take a comfortable spot and enjoy the music. There is a group of musicians and their audience at every corner. A very crowded, fun and colorful environment. This square has many bars, diskos and small appetizer selling spots around it.
Mexico city is built on a volcanic gap, and is 2.850 meters up from the sea level. It is surrounded with mountains and has a population of 28 million, one of the most crowded capitals in the world.
The longest avenue of Mexico City is the Reforme Avenue. The length of the said avenue is 43 km. There is a great Opera building, an Fine arts complex, and many other structures left from the Spanish era on this avenue. Then we arrive to the zocolo square. The other name of it is the Royal Square. You can see the hoisting and lowering of the flag every day at 6:00 am and 18:00 pm. Worth seeing.
Mexico is a country that was shaped with wars. After the Spanish dominion, U.S.A and France never left this country at peace. Internal struggles continued until 1821, when the independence was declared. On their flags, the green represents independence, red means national unity, and white means the cleanness and health of the religion. On the white part, there is an eagle with a a snake in it’s peaks, sitting on a cactus branch. This eagle eating the snake represents the victory over the evil spirits.
The Zocola square is very colorful, a must see. We also visited the oldest Cathedral of Latin America which was built in 1537. The construction of the said cathedral lasted for 240 years. There are a total of 25 bells inside the cathedral. 19 of these are on one side and 6 are on the other. I dont know if it is due to the weight imbalance but the cathedral is inclined to the side with the 19 bells. This incline can be observed very easily.
Since Mexico city was built on a lagoon, the terrain is very soft. Thus cathedral descended into the land quite a bit. There is even a part of the cathedral covered in protective glass at it’s front gates. When we look through the glass you can see the original gate of the cathedral about 15-20 meters below. Apparently the descent has been continuing for some time now, and although precautions were taken in 1989, this was not able to halt the descent completely.
The zocolo square and the structures in the surrounding area are under protection by Unesco. This square is the second largest square in the world after The Red Square in Russia. The beetle taxi’s in green and white, add to the mood of the square while waiting for their next customer.
Mexico City, was built on the old capital city of the Aztecs, Tenochtitlan, and is home to many artifacts from that era. One of the legacies of the Aztecs is the ”Temple Mayor”, the Great Temple.
Again the Royal palace, was built upon the old palace in 1529 by Cortez. The current president and the council of ministers are also located here. After going through security controls, we visit the interior of the palace. The interior of the Palace, are filled with gigantic paintings by the artist Diego Rivera, as you can remember from the movie “Frida”.
If we are to give a brief explanation about Frida; Frida born in 1907 is the daughter of a middle class family. In high school, she takes part in an accident resulting in her spine to get damaged. For many years she lives stripped to a bed, and she starts painting in that bed. She builds her own pictures from a mirror placed on the ceiling. There are 17 pictures of her where she depicts her own image. Later on she marries Diego Rivera. She had a very strange life.
In these pictures adorning the walls, the arrival of the Spanish into Mexico, the setting of the Inquisition courts, and the details of the Mexican history are depicted. The mining of the gold and it’s production, the corn fields and related subjects can be found on the pictures as well. It is not possible to not be impressed by it.
Other than Diego Riviera, David Alfazo, Jose Clemente and other great artists have paintings on these walls.
After leaving the Royal palace, we tour the old bank building which is now used as the post office. Many stalls and merchants are located around this building. The interior of the post office as glorious as it’s exterior. The ceilings and the floor mosaiques are incredible, a total must see. After here we visit the Parlament building. The mural of an eye which symbolizes the Masons, were looking right at us.
Next we visit the Antropholoy Museum in Chapultepek via bus. This Museum is deemed as one of the most important museum’s in the world. Right next to the Museum you can see the 300 year old Mexican University.
The Mexican Antrophology Museum was opened in 1964. At it’s entrance is a statue of the earth goddess Coatlicue (The goddess that people sacrificed for in her name), a single peace statue weighing 20 tons, and is amde of basalt stone. The museum is gigantic and consists of many different galleries surrounding the yard. The ceiling of the yard, was rather peculiar a roof placed on a single column.
In the Museum’s gigantic galleries, you can see magnificent artifacts from the nations of different eras such as the “Olmec” from 1500 B.c. , “Teothiuacan” B.C.200-600, “Toltel from 700-1200A.D. and “Aztecs” 1300- 1521 A.D.
At it’s first entrance at the Great Hall, artifacts of the civilizations from the Middle America are being displayed. Another painting that displays all the Mexican Civilizations is also located here.
Then we see different types of victim stones. Toltects were the civilization that made sacrifices for the Sun God. They presented the hearts of young girls to the Sun God after taking them out with daggers made out of obsidian.
Next is the Aztec sun god. They believed they were the children of 4 main elements. Land, Fire, Water and Air. A single piece of basalt stone, The Sun Stone is 3,5 to 4 meters in width and 24 tons in weight, and was built in 1479.
There are 18 months with 20 days in the Sun Calendar. Which makes up for 360 days. The other 5 days are considered unlucky and foul. These five days have no symbols instead they have dots or the “0” marks.
In mathemathics the four operations,percentage, zero and infinity terms were first used by the Mayans. The mayans have books of law called the Codex. On the papers they’ve gathered from Maguey plants, they inscripted information about religion, culture, astronomy and time.
Mexico city is a city that deserves visiting in every way.
Must-See’s in Mexico City:Tortilla, Black Bean mash, Holiday of the dead, Pyramids of the sun and the moon, tequila, Xochimilco channel tour, Garibaldi square, zocolo square, Royal palace and it’s gigantic paintings, the post office building, Antro Museum, the Sun stone, Diego Rivera, Cactus,green taxi’s.