aztec

CDMX: Chapultepec and Paseo de la Reforma

If Chapultepec is the lungs of Mexico City then Paseo de la Reforma must be its pulmonary artery.

The Bosque de Chapultepec is a very large park. One of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere. Much larger than New York’s Central Park. Big. And very busy with 15 million visitors each year, 250,000 each day. Yet, as soon as we pass through the gates of Section 1, the oldest part of the park, we are engulfed in a deep forest that transports us far away from the congested, noisy streets of Mexico City. In here, the visiting hoards quickly dissipate down networks of paved paths, finding quiet corners, a park bench to rest awhile and take in the songs of 20 to 60 species of birds that also call Chapultepec home. Chapultepec is not just a park but an ecological preserve with forests playing a vital role in returning oxygen to the city’s strained atmosphere.  (more…)

CDMX: A Zócalo Walkabout

Standing here, in the Zócalo, the heart of Mexico City, I can see the city’s entire cultural history laid out. Layers of history spanning thousands of years. I can see it and I can touch it, all from this vantage point.

Physically, the Zócalo itself is nothing more than a large central plaza, a stone-paved platform for events, sacred and profane, bureaucratic and royal. It is the city’s place to protest or celebrate. It is the place where its people come to be seen and to be heard.

It is also the centre of the colonial-era city, a legacy best represented by the Cathedral Metropolitana, a vast heap of Baroque and Neo-Classical stonework dominating an entire side of the square. Construction started in 1524, just as the invading Spaniards began redefining Mexico City in their likeness.

Yet, just off to the right side of the Cathedral, tucked between it and a ring of Hispanic buildings, is the site of an earlier civilization, the one demolished in order to establish the Mexico City we see today.  (more…)