We continue our exploration of Mexico City with a trip to Bosque de Chapultepec.
Bosque de Chapultepec
Bosque de Chapultepec is one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere, measuring over 1,695 acres. It receives about 15,000,000 visitors annually, and this year the number will be 15,000,002!
There is a sign with information, including this map. Conveniently, we’ve entered at (1), the Puerta de los Leones.
Bosque de Chapultepec is considered the first and most important of Mexico City’s “lungs”, with trees that replenish oxygen in the Valley of Mexico. Indeed, it is remarkably quieter in the park than it is just 20 meters away by the street.
The Leones monumental gate has two bronze lions on each side. These monumental sculptures stand on a granite base and were created by the French artist Gardet. The gate was inaugurated on September 17, 1921. However, this lion is not the gate, but just a cool statue of a cat. 😀
The Monumento a los Niños Héroes, officially Altar a la Patria, is a monument commemorating the Niños Héroes, also known as the Heroic Cadets or Boy Soldiers, who were six Mexican teenage military cadets. These cadets died defending Mexico City’s Chapultepec Castle from invading U.S. forces in the 13 September 1847 Battle of Chapultepec, during the Intervención Estadounidense en México. I expect they would have appreciated this pretty girl posing in front of their monument.
José María Teclo Morelos Pérez y Pavón was a Mexican Roman Catholic priest and revolutionary rebel leader who led the Mexican War of Independence movement. Unfortunately, he was captured by the Spanish royalist military, tried by the Inquisition, defrocked as a cleric, and executed by civil authorities for treason in 1815. Morelos is a national hero in Mexico and is considered a very successful military leader despite the fact that he never took a military career.
We find a bridge and pause to take a photograph. A girl with blue hair follows and stand opposite, waiting for…something. She is now part of our travel magazine. 😛
This is one of the many monuments in Chapultepec. What strikes us is how often the statues of pre-Columbian Mexican men are portrayed wearing only loincloths. The weather in Mexico City can go below freezing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Sciurus aureogaster is a native of Mexico City and is known both as the Mexican gray squirrel and the red-bellied squirrel, although the later term seems to be ambiguous. At any rate, they are cute little fellows and comfortable around people. Remember that squirrels are part of the Rodentia order, so in some ways, they are just really cute rats. 😯
Bosque de Capultepec is a peaceful oasis from the noise of the city, and the Jardín Botánico is an even more serene location. The plants are neatly organized and there are plenty of places to relax and enjoy the moment.
In the Jardín Botánico is a fence or wall or something made of stacked up palates which also seems to be a walkway to somewhere. Even though a lady wearing glasses seems comfortable traversing it, given the wetness of the wood, we declined to give it a go.
Castillo de Chapultepec
One of the highlights of the Bosque de Chapultepec is the Castillo de Chapultepec which, conveniently, sits on top of Chapultepec Hill. The castillo is the only castle within North America to ever house actual sovereigns. The site was a sacred place for Aztecs, so it seems like a natural location to build a castle.
An ornate gate is but one of the entrances to the castle, and is an indication that the castle is more of a palace for royalty than a defensive structure. In fact, it was built as a home for Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez, 1st Viscount of Galveston, who has the distinction of being awarded honorary United States citizenship.
The castle was probably quite imposing when it was built towards the end of the 1700s, but now seems peaceful and spacious, with the balcony providing a cool place for visitors to relax.
I want a photograph showing the tile used on much of the exterior flooring, but cannot find a spot without people. However, this gentleman’s selection of clothing nicely complements the castle’s design.
In fact, there is so much checkered flooring, it’s almost blinding. 😎
The castle has an abundance of art works, including these three paintings of women who appear to be dancing on very small pedestals.
The interior of the courtyard transitions from checkerboard to a wall-manicured garden. The castle was famous for its view of the surrounding countryside, and you can see much of Mexico City’s downtown from this vantage point. The child in the photograph is walking on hands and knees, staying only on the white diamonds. 🙂
The garden hosts a tower, perhaps a redoubt. I don’t have an explanation for the two women apparently carrying laundry.
The castle is surrounded by the modern buildings of Mexico City, most views of which are garish. From this corner, the view is soft, and the vegetation blocks the persistent traffic noise.
The inner courtyard displays a statue of a guy with a mustache and an oversized sombrero. Perhaps it is José Doroteo Arango Arámbula, Mexican revolutionary general, alleged husband to 75 wives, and purported organizer of the gang rape and femicide of Namiquipa. Or perhaps not. At any rate, no one here seems interested.
A gilded-railed stairwell guarded by two busty women invites us upward. This has to be interesting, right?
It’s hard to be happy when everyone around you is sad.
The painting depicts Fernando Maximiliano José María de Habsburgo-Lorena; the identity of the sad woman in white remains a mystery. Note that the painting is not ripped; it was painted to appear as such.
A large porcelain candelabrum sits quietly in the corner, capable of holding 20 candles. I expect there would be a small firestorm if all were burning at once.
For some reason, the castillo is home to three stagecoaches, each in rather good condition. Even though they look pretty cool, it was probably a bumpy and uncomfortable ride.
Castillo de Chapultepec Rooms
The room in the Castillo de Capultepec are well-appointed, to say the least.
It looks pretty, but…what’s with those two chairs? It’s not like they were watching TV. And how did they climb in and out of bed with the chairs right there? Did they ever knock over the porcelain containers setting atop tiny tables? And if you look closely at the little fellow suspended from the cross, it appears he as a towel wrapped around him sporting a hexagram similar to the Star of David.
In the piano room, four people can sit on the same chair and each face a different direction. Those crazy Mexicans!
Why do you suppose they had a privacy screen in the baño? And why is the top quarter transparent? Why not just get one 3/4 that height? Well, at least they put electric candles in this room.
Enjoy this gallery of other rooms. We are sure you can spot as much wackiness as we did. 🙂
Catedral Metropolitana de México
The Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos is a large (59 meters wide by 128 meters long by 67 meters high) cathedral owned by the Catholic religion and situated atop (of course) a former Aztec sacred precinct on the northern side of the Plaza de la Constitución in Downtown Mexico City
According to the internet, “It consists of two bell towers, a central dome, three main portals. It has four façades which contain portals flanked with columns and statues. It has five naves consisting of 51 vaults, 74 arches and 40 columns. The two bell towers contain a total of 25 bells. The tabernacle, adjacent to the cathedral, contains the baptistery and serves to register the parishioners. There are five large, ornate altars, a sacristy, a choir, a choir area, a corridor and a capitulary room. Fourteen of the cathedral’s sixteen chapels are open to the public. Each chapel is dedicated to a different saint or saints, and each was sponsored by a religious guild. The chapels contain ornate altars, altarpieces, retablos, paintings, furniture and sculptures. The cathedral is home to two of the largest 18th-century organs in the Americas. There is a crypt underneath the cathedral that holds the remains of many former archbishops. The cathedral has approximately 150 windows.”
Yeah, I suppose there are so many windows, they have to estimate. 🙄
The main entrance has two wooden doors that are so large, the doors themselves have doors.
There are a few people who seem to be involved in some silent introspection, but most folks are milling about and taking photographs of the opulence. We can’t help but compare it to the quiet comfort and simplicity of the mosques in Istanbul.
Indeed, the architecture is intriguing. When you have 250 years to build something, you are bound to do a good job.
We wonder if there are hidden doors and passageways known only to the select few.
The main nave is inspiring in that it was built with concrete using arches and domes as support. Notice that the lighting is electrical now, probably due to modern safety requirements.
The organ is not playing, but given the statues of the guys with string and wind instruments sitting atop the structure, perhaps they play some rockin’ good music here! With all the uneven surfaces in the cathedral, the acoustics might be great.
Although the religious artifacts seem expensive and precious, we are allowed to approach close enough to touch them. Of course, we do not touch them, and the lack of fingerprints indicates that no one does.
This cathedral contains a good number of idols depicting the death of the Catholic god, Jesus. We are intrigued, and begin to wonder.
The average height of a man in Judea in the time of Jesus was 5 feet and 5 inches. A post in the ground should be 1/3 underground and 2/3 above ground. The post appears to be perhaps 1 foot above Jesus’ head and 2 feet below his feet. This means that the post is about 13 feet tall. The cross bar would then be about 5 feet in length, making the total length 18 feet. And we can guess that the thickness is 8 inches by 8 inches.
There were many trees in Judea, and cypress was common. According to Lumber and Hardwood Weight Calculator, the cross would weigh 256 pounds. Now that’s a heavy cross for a man to bear!
Templo de San Hipólito
The Templo de San Hipólito is a church along Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma, and somewhat less ostentatious than the Catedral Metropolitana de México. The church was dedicated on August 13, the feast day of St. Hippolytus of Rome (hence the name), but today the church is known as the Templo de San Judas Tadeo, an apostle of Jesus, who is reputed to have been decapitated with a hatchet.
The exterior of the church is humble and seems to fit in with the chaos of Mexico City. The side of the building has a giraffe motif.
The church has its share of oglers (including us), but it is quiet and comfortable. We don’t know enough Catholic mythology to know who is represented by all the statues, aside from Jesus and his mom. Still, it is pleasant to look upon.
This is another image that is a bit confounding. This is a depiction of Jesus’ mother, Mary. The golden portion of the robe looks suspiciously like labia, with a strange clitoral-like bulge near her knees. One wonders on the intent of the artist and those who choose to worship such an image.
These accuracy of these figurines is dubious (one cannot hang from a nail driven through a hand), but at least the post is well supported by the pile of rocks.
This, too, is a mystery. According to Catholic mythology, Jesus had Five Holy Wounds: one in each hand and foot, and another in his chest where he was stabbed with a lance. Now we have knee wounds to account for.
I don’t have an account on f, bird, or square-circle, but if I did, you can be assured that I’d sigue las locas aventuras de Templo de San Hipólito!
Mexico City Architecture
Mexico City as A LOT of interesting architecture, more than we can discover in our short trip here. But we will share some of the cooler structures we saw.
In this panoramic view of a portion of Mexico City taken from the Castillo de Chapultepec (see above), you can get an idea of the large number of buildings. According to The Skyscraper Center, Mexico City has 23 buildings taller than 150 meters (about 45 stories).
A view of Paseo de la Reforma, where the skyscrapers are lined up for your viewing pleasure. The building on the left is Torre Reforma and on the right is Torre BBVA México. “Torre” means tower. Clever, eh?
This curvy building is Plaza Suites, a 5-star hotel. We wonder if, on a windy day, the building’s shape shields the center or if it creates a tornado-like vortex.
We don’t know if Hilton Hotel owns this building, but they should. We pity the folks who live in the interior of the H; do they ever get to see the sun, or is it always dark and gloomy?
El Caballito is a 28-meter-high steel exterior sculpture made by Enrique Carbajal González Santiván describing the head of a horse. The monument replaced the statue of Carlos IV which was removed from there in 1979, and also had to be some kind of chimney that would dissipate the vapors from deep drainage but wouldn’t adversely affect the image of the Paseo de la Reforma.
This building is some distance from us, but we just happen to be at an edge where it looks like it’s more of a billboard than a building.
Here we have Sofitel Mexico Reforma, promising “French luxury and local cuisine in the world’s most exciting city”, and the other two buildings appear to be part of the Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, commonly known as BMV.
This structure sits atop a subway station and appears to have no function but to look imposing.
This structure is part of the Museo Nacional de Antropoligía, serving no apparent purpose but to look cool.
Yes, we knew that was going to happen, and carefully keep our distance.
Had it been warm and sunny, we would have followed the example of the young man sprinting through the mist. But it’s already pretty chilly, so we refrain. 😀
Desfile y Concurso de Alebrijes Monumentales
El Desfile de Alebrijes en la Ciudad de México is an annual event to honor Mexican handcrafts and folk art, especially a hard kind of papier-mâché called “cartonería” and the creation of fantastic figures with it called “alebrijes”. Alebrijes are chimera-like creatures credited to artisan Pedro Linares painted in bright colors. The alebrijes for the parade are larger than anything Linares created, up to four meters in height and three meters in width. The giant creatures are accompanied by musicians, clowns, people in costume and more, giving the event a Carnival-like atmosphere. After the parade, the creations are judged with prizes awarded. There are also related literary and musical compositions.
There is no way to label what is displayed in the parade. They are just alebrijes.
The parade floats are pushed and pulled by people; there are no motorized floats. And many of the participants sport “Museo de Arte Popular” shirts.
Although the day is overcast and not particularly warm, almost all the parade goers carry plastic water bottles. You can see even more water bottles on the cart. Someone is very, very worried about dehydration.
Some of the alebrijes seem to be more fanciful than others. As in, the folks just started building it without a particular concept in mind to see how it might turn out.
We have many photographs of all the interesting floats. Please take a few minutes to enjoy our slide show.
There are also parade entries that are not alebrijes.
Based on the hats, this appears to be a Navy band, entertaining us with a lively and loud musical piece.
The parade attracts more than just mythical and impossible creatures; cosplayers get to join in the fun, too.
We don’t know enough Mexican folklore to know who these fellows represent, but we suspect they are angry because of the hat-string cutting into their nose.
Yes, we have a slide show illustrating some non-alebrijes. 🙂
We are well aware that different people have different ideas of pleasure. So, it you are into wire bondage, Mexico City is THE place for you!
I don’t really have words to describe the chaos of Mexico City’s utility lines and the high-tech procedure used by the professionals to maintain them. I mean, how do even know which lines do what?
Notice the red, yellow, and blue tape casually affixed to the pinkish-reddish wires. They must have a meaning, but what? And why is the excess wire just wrapped in loops rather than being cut and properly attached?
On the street is an open telephone exchange box, with wire just as chaotic as the utility wires. There are sophisticated techniques at play here.
You can get your freak on with our splendid slide show of wire bondage.
But wait, there’s more! In our next edition, we conclude with Mexico City, Part 3. Until then…