What I Saw: In Mexico City, Concrete Architecture and Then Some

Feeling energized and inspired from the charm and beauty of Guadalajara, I continued on to the last leg of my trip: Mexico City. The largest city in North America with a population of 21.3 million people, Mexico City is a financial and cultural powerhouse in Latin America. Visiting this incredible city was nothing like I have ever experienced before, because it’s a city made for art, architecture and design nerds (and for foodies too!) like me and it stopped me in my tracks, taking my breath away, at every street and every corner. From the richly ornate Palacio de Bellas Artes to the concrete modernist haven of Ciudad Universitaria, this megacity has it all.

I checked into my beautiful AirBnB rooftop studio apartment in La Condesa—a Bohemian neighborhood with an Art Deco flair not for the faint of heart. Thrilled to immerse myself in the city, I walked from La Condesa in the direction of Bosque de Chapultepec—a city park twice as large as New York City’s Central Park—to visit El Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art) and look at Frida Kahlo’s tour de force painting “Las Dos Fridas.” Also inside Bosque de Chapultepec is El Museo Rufino Tamayo, one of the most important contemporary art museums in Latin America. While at El Tamayo, I took in the work of conceptual artist Cerith Wyn Evans and attended a screening of experimental film organized by the Laboratorio Experimental de Cine (LEC).

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Bosque de Chapultepec

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Korean Pavillon. Gifted to Mexico City in 1968.

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El Museo de Arte Moderno, Pedro Ramirez Vazquez and Rafael Mijares, 1964.

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Museo Rufino Tamayo, Abraham Zabludovsky and Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon, 1972.

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In addition to immersing myself in Mexico City’s arts and culture, my trip to the city was also an opportunity to connect with a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (where I work). We had lunch at the beautiful Casa de los Azulejos (House of Tiles), a 16th century palace covered in tiles from floor to ceiling with a mural by Jose Clemente Orozco. Following lunch, I headed up to Torre Latinoamericana to get a bird’s eye view of the mammoth city that is Mexico City.

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Conjunto Plaza by Legorreta + Legorreta, 2003.

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Conjunto Plaza by Legorreta + Legorreta, 2003.

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Palacio de Bellas Artes, Adamo Boari and Federico Mariscal, 1934

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Palacio de Bellas Artes, Adamo Boari and Federico Mariscal, 1934

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Palacio de Bellas Artes, Adamo Boari and Federico Mariscal, 1934

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Torre Latinoamericana, Augusto H. Alvarez and Leonardo Zeevaert, 1956.

Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world, second only to Paris, of course. A trip to Mexico City is not complete without a visit to one of the most astounding museums I’ve ever visited, El Museo Nacional de Antropologia—a world-class museum with an incredible collection of objects illustrating the history of the many indigenous cultures of Mexico. It starts with an overall introduction to anthropology and from there, one embarks on an unforgettable journey that left me in tears, gasping for air at the sight of so much history and beauty.

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Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, Jorge Campuzano and Rafael Mirajes Alcerreca, 1964.

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Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, Jorge Campuzano and Rafael Mirajes Alcerreca, 1964.

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My time in Mexico City was too short, but I did manage to squeeze in a visit to Ciudad Universitaria, one of the city’s many markets, a stroll down Calle Donceles, and an evening walk around Roma Norte—another of the city’s bustling neighborhoods. Oh, and I bought a guide to Mexico City’s architecture and got my #FuckYeahBrutalism fix. 

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El Pabellon de Rayos Cosmicos (Pavillion of Cosmic Rays), Felix Candela, 1951.

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Calle Donceles

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Detail. El Auditorio Nacional (National Auditorium), Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon and Abraham Zabludovsky, 1991.

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