Friday, February 4, 2011

Parents' visit: Historic District

On my parents' second full day in Mexico we visited the Historic District.

Our first stop was the Zócalo (the main plaza), including the Catedral Metropolitana. My second time seeing the Pope John Paul II statue made out of keys and locks I actually read the sign: it's made out of keys donated by Mexicans because the people of Mexico "gave the keys to their heart" to the Pope (or something along those lines...)

statue of Pope John Paul II

statue of Pope John Paul II

Catedral Metropolitana

From there, we went to visit the Templo Mayor, which was the center of the Aztecs' Tenochtitlan. According to tradition, this is where the god Huitzilopochtli gave the Mexica people his sign that they had reached the promosed land -- an eagle on top of a cactus with a snake in its mouth. It was built sometime around 1325, but was rebuilt six times, alway built on top of the previous construction. What we saw is located just behind the Cathedral -- though the Cathedral is built overtop parts of it. 

disk depicting Coyolxauhqui, painted in what is
thought to be the original colors 

I spy: a lizard

the space between the walls reflects different constructions -- it would
have been filled in to create a newer structure built upon the
older structure 

Chac mool figure 

view of the Cathedral from Templo Mayor

please note the skulls used to "decorate" 

We ate lunch at a restaurant overlooking Templo Mayor and the Zocalo.

Next, we visited the Palacio Nacional (National Palace).

We visited Bellas Artes (the Fine Artes Museum)

And then we enjoyed the view from the top of the Torre Latinoamericana. The building was the tallest in Mexico from 1956 (when it was built) until 1984. It is apparently the first major skyscraper successfully built on highly active seismic land. The view was incredible! 

You can see the Zócalo in the distance (follow the middle street to
the open plaza) 

Bellas Artes, form above 

We finished our tour of the  Historic District at Café Tacuba -- a cafe that opened in 1912 and had its heydey in the 1950's. A band credited as a pioneering group in the Rock en Español movement took their name from this cafe. I ordered a sweet tamal and atole for my parents to try. Tamales are made of masa (a starchy dough, often corn-based), which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. They can be filled with meats, cheese, vegetables, chiles, etc. Ours was a sweet tamal, made with pineapple. Atole is a hot drink usually made from masa, water, piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), cinnamon, vanilla and sometimes chocolate or fruit.

sweet tamal + atole in the background 

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