11/1989 - Mexico

8-day trip to Mexico with an itinerary that included a visit to Mexico City, Teotihuacan , Cuernavaca , Taxco, Villahermosa , Palenque , Merida , Chichen Itza , Uxmal

There is no better way to realize the vastness of Mexico City than to admire it from the plane! The city is located at 2.240 meters above sea level and is a very beautiful megalopolis, especially in its historic center .

Constitution Square, known as the Zócalo, is the heart of the city.

It is bordered by the Metropolitan Cathedral, where the bells in the bell tower are ” blocked ” after a shake during a recent earthquake , and the National Palace, over its central door was placed the “Campana de Dolores”  whose ringing gave the start to the first war of independence. Then we saw the Plaza of the Three Cultures.

Nearby there is the Plaza de Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo square) where, under the Portal de Evangelistas , modern scribes equipped with typewriters and printing machines are used to work.

Inside the National Palace we could admire the famous murals painted by Diego Rivera in the 1930s .

The artist presented the history of Mexico, from the war of independence period until the revolution.

It was very interesting the visit to the Museum of Anthropology which contains archaeological findings in rooms named after the various cultures which passed over the centuries .

The 1st November in Mexico is celebrated as a public holiday because, by tradition, it is the day in which the dead return to their homes to visit their beloved. So it is a holiday celebrated as shown in the gallery. Near the Zócalo, the Mariachis, street musicians, gather individually or in groups and, wearing typical  costumes , sing out loudly the traditional ballads. They are not always in tune nor with tuned instruments , however, they offer a unique show.

The Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe was built where the Virgin appeared  and was proclaimed Patrón Nacional de la Nueva España in 1737; since the church began to sink it was built a new one.

Teotihuacan is the oldest pre- Aztec city, which already existed in the first century AD.

There, the huge “Piramides del Sol y de la Luna ” (Pyramids of the Sun and of the Moon) stand out imposing; the Pyramid of the Moon rises at the end of the “Calzada de los Muertos ” (Avenue of the Dead), a road which is more than two- kilometer long.

The Tetitla Palace is quite spectacular with images of jaguars, snakes and eagles.

Taxco, quite famous for the now exhausted silver mines , is a picturesque colonial town placed on steep slopes, characterized by narrow streets and by a church, that is a masterpiece of baroque architecture, the Parish of Santa Prisca, built in pink stone .

Back in Mexico City, we flew to Villahermosa, city of the State of Tabasco, to visit the Archaeological Museum de la Venta . The Olmec civilization, which dates back to 1.200 BC, left amazing evidences. Colossal heads (even three meters high), wearing curious helmets, carved in basalt. The Museum winds along a trail that crosses a lush vegetation. We met numerous sculptures, in addition to the heads , which represent human figures, gods and more.

130 kilometers far from Villahermosa , in the State of Chiapas, there is the Mayan archaeological site of Palenque.

Two of the most important temples are: the Temple of the Inscriptions, impressive and more than 25 meters high, and El Palacio (The Palace) which has many rooms and corridors; it includes four courtyards and, in the one called “El Patio de los Cautivos” (the Prisoners’ courtyard ), there are huge relief sculptures .

Back in Villahermosa, we flew to Merida, capital city of the State of Yucatan. We visited the Cathedral and the Plaza Grande.

The “Tierra Madre” (Mother Earth), which the Colombian sculptor Romulo Rozo dedicated to the Mexican nation and to the American Continent, is the most significant monument.

The most complex and most famous Mayan site in Yucatan is Chichen Itza which includes a number of significant monuments .

Among the monuments, the most important is “El Castillo” (The castle) which, as a matter of fact, represents the Mayan calendar built in stone. It is difficult to describe the calendar, but it is interesting to remember that a series of shadows, during the equinoxes, makes it appear a snake crawling down the staircase.

Behind El Castillo, there is the “Templo de los Guerreros” (Temple of the Warriors), which is characterized by a multitude of columns, and the “Templo de Chac Mool” on which thousands of human sacrifices took place.

One of the most beautiful monuments of the site is “El Caracol” (The Snail) which gets its name from the spiral staircase inside. It was an observatory from whose top the priests indicated the best times for sowing, harvesting and religious rituals.

The sports ground  “El Gran Juego de Pelota” (the Great Ball Court) is the largest of Mexico and has an excellent acoustics . The game was to get the ball in a stone ring and the losing team was sacrificed. In fact, along the walls of the stadium , there are bas-reliefs depicting scenes with a multitude of decapitated heads.

In Uxmal, the most representative monument is the Casa del Adivino (Pyramid of the Magician) a nearly 40-meter high pyramid with steep staircases that make it almost impossible to reach the top, also considering the climatic difficulties (it is unbearably hot and humid) .

Under the pyramid, there is the “Cuadrangolo de las Monjas” (Nunnery Quadrangle), a quadrangular building with many small rooms, whose aim is still unknown.

The last monument visited is the spectacular Palacio del Gobernador ( Governor’s Palace ), whose façade is more than one hundred meters long. It is considered the main expression of the Puuc style for the beauty of its limestone cladding.