Mexico City, or Ciudad de México (CDMX), oozes with life. Plants sprout up everywhere--framing every balcony, walkways in the middle of major streets, and the stunning urban parks of Bosque de Chapultepec, Parque México, and Parque España. Vendors line the major thoroughfares, singing the praises of their beautiful artisan crafts and riquísimo (delicious) cuisine. People from all over the country and the world hustle and bustle around the city. Despite the rapid urban pace, la gente (the people) find time to slow down. You’ll often see the locals walking their pet dogs--which CDMX is famous for--or sipping a mezcal cocktail with friends at one of the many celebrated mezcalerías. The life force that surges through CDMX inspired the work of Frida Khalo, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Luis Barragán, and countless other artists. The same energy will run through you during your visit.
Zócalo: the center of it all
The Plaza de la constitución, also known as the Zócalo, was the center of Tenochtitlan before the Spanish conquest, and continues to serve as a political and cultural hub of the city. It features the Palacio Nacional, which houses Diego Rivera’s ornate mural depicting Mexican history from the Aztecs to modern times entitled La Historia de México. The Zócalo also includes the Catedral metropolitana de la Ciudad de México, the main cathedral, and the Museo Archivo de la Fotografía, among other cultural sites. This center is a must-visit in order to understand Mexican history and art.
Condesa & Roma Norte
Colonias Condesa and Roma Norte, which are slightly south and west of the Zócalo, are two of the coolest neighborhoods in CDMX. Lucious plant life dominates the streets. Some streets even have special pathways flanked by trees, which creates the impression that you’re hiking through an urban forest. Among the greenery, cafeterías (coffee shops), restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, librerías (bookstores), and even churrerías (churro bakeries) abound. Two of the best parks in CDMX are also located here: Parque México and Parque España. In the outdoor theater at Parque México, professionals and aficionados alike converge to practice dancing, skateboarding, singing, martial arts, and other activities. Artisans gather here as well to sell their beautiful hand-crafted goods. Young people flock to Condesa and Roma Norte for a reason!
Coyoacán is another lively neighborhood that is located in the south of the city, near the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). The area houses Frida Khalo’s house-now-museum, La Casa Azul (the blue house). The museum captures Frida’s life, artistic œuvre, relationships, political involvement, and appreciation of natural beauty through the curated rooms and courtyard garden. Walking a few blocks south of la casa azul, you will stumble upon a couple of indoor markets bustling with delicious food and spices, piñatas, quinceñera dresses, plants, huipiles (embroidered dresses), and so much more. Continuing on the boulevard, you will hit the Centro de Coyoacán. People gather in this square, listening to everything from mariachi bands to high schoolers’ rap battles. This area also features a baroque church, fine dining, and delicious heladerías (ice cream shops). There is so much to explore in Coyoacán.
An artisan’s stall in El Mercado de Coyoacán
Let Cuidad de México inspire you on your AIP trip. Participate in its unique ecology, lose yourself in its bustling markets, and find yourself among the giants of the art world.
Author: Sophia Minnillo, PhD candidate UC Davis, Linguistics.