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Mexico-On-Line » Mexico City » Mexico City Things To Do

Mexico City Things To Do

Mexico City, one of the world's largest metropolises, is jam-packed with art and architecture, archeology and history of the city's rich past. It is cited as one of "National Geographic's" top travel destinations for its nightlife and museums. What follows is only a smattering of the possible things to do.

A good starting place is Alameda Central (Centro Map D-3), a promenade of greenery, fountains and people enjoying themselves. In Aztec times a market was on the site. During the Spanish Inquisition, "heretics" were burned here at the stake. Sundays and holidays are the most colorful, and often there is live music.

East of the park is Palacio de Bellas Artes (Centro Map E-3), the white Carrara marble opera house where the Ballet Folklórico de Mexico performs. The stage has a Tiffany glass curtain of volcanoes. Important cultural events and art exhibits are held here. Also to the east is the Museo Nacional de Arte (Centro Map F-3), with art from Pre-Columbian through modern eras.

On the north side is the Museo Franz Mayer (Centro Map D-3), in a beautifully restored 16th-century hospital. The museum specializes in the applied arts: Talavera tiles and ceramics, chests inlaid with ivory and ebony, religious silverwork, processional crosses and hundreds of editions of Cervantes's "Don Quijote." On the west side is the Museo Mural Diego Rivera (Centro Map C-3), built to house the mural "Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park." The museum also showcases different Mexican and international artists. One block farther west is Fonart, a branch of the government-sponsored arts and crafts showroom.

About ten blocks east of Alameda, don't miss the accidentally discovered and recently excavated Templo Mayor (Centro Map H-3), an Aztec temple where captives, sometimes thousands at a time, were sacrificed to the god of war. The adjacent Museo contains artifacts from this and other sites.

The most renowned museum in Mexico City and the largest of its kind in Latin America is the Museo Nacional de Antropología (Polanco Map H-3) in the Chapultepec Forest. It contains art and artifacts of all the indigenous cultures in Mexico's past and present. Nearby is the Museo de Arte Moderno (Polanco Map I-3), with its fine permanent collection of 20th-century Mexican painters. Kids of all ages will love the Chapultepec Zoológico (Polanco Map G-3), where pandas are a main attraction. If you get tired, a minitrain, which leaves from near the center, will take you around.

At the Museo Frida Kahlo, Kahlo's blue house (San Angel & Coyoacán Map E-3), see her eclectic collection of pre-Columbian through modern art. Nearby is the fortresslike Museo de León Trotsky (San Angel & Coyoacán Map E-3), where Trotsky hid from Stalin. The study, where he was eventually killed by a Spaniard in 1940, is the most interesting room. The Museo Estudio Diego Rivera (San Angel & Coyoacán Map A-4) was designed by the artist to house his large collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. Upstairs in his study are unfinished sketches and personal items.

While at these three museums, you might want to have lunch in charming San Angel, with its cobbled streets and mix of colonial and modern homes. It is known also for its Saturday arts and crafts market, the Bazar del Sábado (San Angel & Coyoacán Map A-4).