Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Day in the "Centro"

Mexico City's "Centro Histórico" is so full of history, art and architecture that it would take days to see everything.  But today I showed Gail and Annette some of the highlights.  We had a very full day even though we scratched the surface of this fascinating district.

The weather was partly cloudy.  There was a brisk breeze which was at times chilly but which cleared out the smog.  It was one of those days where one would not believe that the city has an air pollution problem.  It was a perfect day for sightseeing.

After a hearty breakfast at a nearby restaurant, we took the Metrobus and the subway to reach the Zócalo, the city's main plaza.  Our first stop was the National Palace, a building which dates back to colonial times when it was the palace of the Spanish viceroy.  Today it houses the offices of the President.  Tourists come here to see the murals in the courtyard of the palace.  They depict the history of Mexico, and were done by the famous painter Diego Rivera over the course of several decades.

Nearby is the archaeological site where the base of the main Aztec temple has been excavated.  We did not enter the site or its museum, but we had a good view from the walkway above.

Next to the excavation site is the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico, an enormous church which took over 200 years to build.  The interior is filled with ornate altarpieces.

By this time it was time to take a break, so we stopped Parroquia de Veracruz, a Mexico City branch of a well known coffee shop located in the gulf coast city of Veracruz.   They are most famous for their "café lechero".  A small amount of very strong coffee is served in a glass.  The waiter then fills the remainder of the glass with steamed milk.  It is done with a bit of dramatic flair.

Rejuvenated after our coffee break, we headed down busy Madero Street, the pedestrianized heart of the "Centro".

Along Madero Street is the colonial mansion known as Iturbide's Palace.  It is now a venue for special art exhibits.  I have written here about the two visits that I have already made to see the current show, an incredible collection of Mexican folk art.  I did not mind at all making a third visit with Gail and Annette.  I knew that they would love the exhibit.  We probably spent a couple hours there.

We next stopped for a quick peek inside Mexico City's main post office, a grandiose structure which was completed in 1907.

By now it was time for dinner.  We went to a nearby restaurant called "Los Girasoles" (The Sunflowers), an elegant place featuring fine Mexican cuisine.  It was a contrast to last night's supper at a taco joint. 

Annette ordered "cochinita pibil", a pork dish from Yucatán.

My cousin Gail ordered chicken with the traditional "mole poblano" sauce.

I had chicken breast stuffed with "huazontle", a Mexican vegetable that is somewhat similar to broccoli, and covered with a goat cheese sauce.

(photo taken by Gail)

Everyone was very pleased with their meal.

By this time it was after dark.  We took an evening stroll past the illuminated Palace of Fine Arts.

We walked to the Metrobus stop, and fortunately the bus was not too crowded.  We made it back to their hotel and my apartment after a busy but enjoyable exploration of Mexico City's historic heart. 

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