The bus took us to the Northern Bus Terminal. Initially there were only standing places in the crowded bus but in the city some people got out and we found a seat. From the bus terminal we took an Uber taxi to our hotel, (Hotel El Salvador) in the old city. In the afternoon we walked to the large main plaza : Zocola with a large Cathedral in the middle and old government buildings around the plaza. Off on one corner is the Templo Mayor. This Aztec temple complex was on an island in the center of a shallow lake. It was completely destroyed and overbuilt by the Spanish. Only in 1978, after workers discovered some large decorated stones, was the initiative taken to excavate as much as possible the old Aztec temple complex. Some Spanish buildings were removed in the process while underground excavation continues. Also this temple was enlarged by each subsequent ruler which can clearly be seen in the ruins which look like layers of an onion peeled off. Along the bottom rim of the Temple there are again many painted reliefs This temple complex is much younger (1325 – 1500 AD) than the Teotihuacan culture which flourished from 0 – 700 AD.
Outside the temple complex, next to the cathedral, many Aztec natives demonstrated their dancing and drumming skills and invite you for a body purification using incense smoke and leaves. On one side of the plaza is the Palacio National. The current Mexican president lives there so security is tight and it is difficult to see the murals depicting the history of Mexico made by Diego Rivera between 1929-1951. But Rudy managed to get the last standby ticket for an English tour of the first floor gallery.
In fact we spent the majority of our 4 days visiting the different sites of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. We took the metro and local bus out to Frida’s Casa Azure. Unfortunately you needed to pre-book your ticket, so we could not go in. There was a long line of visitors outside. Instead we travelled to the studio/home of Frida and Diego, further into the suburbs. The 3 houses on site are made of concrete in the bouwhouse style of the 1920’s. They have large windows ideal for both their painting work.
To not overstress Jamaliah back, we boarded a sightseeing open top, tourist bus and had a relaxed drive through the old city and over the Av. Constituyentes. On that avenue there are several large roundabouts with monuments commemorating significant events in Mexican history. You also drive through the modern business district with the usual high skyscrapers. These ones are built to withstand major earthquakes like the last on in 1985.
Just outside the old city center is the Palacio de Bellas Artes. This over the top decorated palace (1905-1930) houses a concert hall (closed) and in the hallways, covered with different colours of Italian marble, there is a collection of murals from various Mexican artist. Diego Rivera’s “Man at the crossroads” is the centre piece. Original commissioned by the Rockefellers but now here because it had too many anti-capitalistic themes. Opposite the Palacio is a museum dedicated to a large 15 long mural named “Dream of Sunday afternoon in the Alameda Central” by Diego, which was saved out of Hotel del Prado with was destroyed in the 1985 earthquake. In true Diego style, it is a political mural depicting all types of characters of colonial and republican Mexico. Diego painted himself as a child with his wife Frida behind it.
For lunches and dinners we mostly ate at street stalls consisting of different types of taco’s with a selection of sauces. We quickly discovered that the green sauce was not guacamole and very spicy. Just around the corner of the hotel there is a pasteria with delicious Churros where we twice had for breakfast.
Welcome back! We’re in Veracruz until the end of the week. If you ever come this way, let us know!