I had my first flight ever 19 years ago to Mexico City and I have never gotten anywhere close to getting tired of discovering all the hidden gems that this wonderful city has to offer. This time, I was on the hunt for extraordinary interiors. And boy did I find some…
As most of you who follow my blog know by now, I always love to explore sights that are not so widely known or that are architecturally extraordinary and therefore form a wonderful alternative to the more common sightseeing places. Biblioteca Vasconcelos is one of these spots. I stumbled over her when doing my research on interesting constructions that should definitely make it onto my list. Located just a stone´s throw away from the Buenavista metro station in the same name neighborhood, the library is a masterpiece in modern architecture with a cubist interior that made even me a bit afraid of heights when looking down into the open atrium from the top floor. An extraordinary place for everyone who appreciates world-class design!
Eje 1 Norte Mosqueta S/N, Buenavista, 06350 Cuauhtemoc, CDMX
Even though this is not a secret tip and I have been several times already, the cathedral is one of the most imposing and impressive landmarks of religious architecture around the whole world. And it is extraordinary every single time. Combine your visit with a Margarita or Mezcalita at one of the rooftop bars surrounding the Zócalo: Balcon de Zócalo, for instance.
Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Chapultepec Castle (Castillo Chapultepec)
Looking back onto a moving history, the castle serves as National Museum of History today. But over the centuries it has been in service as Military Academy, Imperial Residence, Presidential Home and as an observatory. Built between 1785 and 1863, the palace was erected on the highest point of Chapultepec Hill, which had served as a sacred place for the Aztecs for many, many years. By the time it was completed, Castillo Chapultepec was the only royal castle in mainland North America that was actually used as the residence of a sovereign. Emperor Maximilian I ordered a massive renovation in 1864 in a neoclassical style which was carried out inter alia by European architects Kayser and Hofmann, who both worked on the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria 20 years later. Many of the private rooms can be seen, yet none of them is actually directly accessible. My personal favorite locations on the premise are the aerial gardens on the roof, the hallway with floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows and the Malachite Room. You can well combine your visit with a pedal boat ride on the lake afterwards and a quesadilla from one of the food stands in the park.
Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, 11100 Mexico City, CDMX
Even though Mexico City offers a wide array of churches and temples at almost every corner, this one belongs to one of my favorites as its exteriors facade seen from the small courtyard off Avenida Júarez is quite reminiscent of Aztec influences in architecture. The interiors, on the other hand, are unmistakably Christian with high Gothic style ceilings and those extraordinary rich decorated golden altars at the end of each of the two naves. I was actually quite impressed that the building seemed pretty much unaffected from the latest earthquakes that have hit Mexico City just two weeks ago. Combine your visit with window shopping along the busy pedestrian zone towards the Zócalo.
Francisco I. Madero 11, Cuauhtemoc, Centro, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX
By chance I had found this outstanding interior jewel already a few years ago, but since its appearance in the latest James Bond blockbuster movie “Spectre”, the hotel and its lavish Art Nouveau architecture have become world-famous. Few people know, that the Gran Hotel was already featured in an earlier James Bond movie back in 1989. Timothy Dalton met Q in “Licence to Kill” where scenes were filmed at the check-in desk and inside the beautiful elevators. Today, simply going in to take pictures is not so easy anymore as the entrance is checked by security and hotel personnel. But it is a great reason to enjoy a drink and a fresh guacamole on the hotel´s beautiful rooftop terrace restaurant called La Terraza and strolling through the hallways underneath the extraordinary glass dome afterwards. Definitely a must see!
Av. 16 de Septiembre 82, Centro, 06000 Cuauhtémoc, CDMX
Main Post Office (Palacio de Correos de Mexico)
What is known as the Correo Mayor is probably one of the most beautiful post offices there is and another must visit when in downtown. Just across the street from Bellas Artes, the building was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century and has been designed by Italian architect Adamo Boardi. The foundation had already been strengthened by a mixture of concrete slabs together with steel beams which was referred to as “Chicago” style. Unfortunately, the building was heavily damaged during the 1985 earthquake, but intensive restorations over decades brought it back into its original state. The lavish staircase is one of the most photographed details in the inside, but I was astonished in general by the opulence of all these different design styles and elements that can be found there. Simply breathtaking!
C. Tacuba 1, Cuauhtémoc, Centro Histórico, Centro, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Palace of the Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes)
Declared as National Historic Monument in 1987 by the UNESCO, the Palace of the Fine Arts is truly an architectural marvel to discover and by far the most important cultural institution in the state of Mexico. While during the day, only the main atrium underneath the massive domes are open to the public, a great opportunity to marvel at the beautifully fitted auditoriums is to buy a ticket for the Mexican Folklore Ballet (happening each Wednesday and Sunday) or to take part in one of the guided tours. The ballet is very recommendable, if you like, you can read about it in one of my previous posts about Mexico City
Av. Juárez, Centro Histórico, Centro, 06050 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Palacio de Hierro Centro (Department Store)
Translated as The Iron Palace, the upscale department store in the historic district close to Zócalo features not only all luxury amenities and brands that each lifestyle shopaholic may like, it also showcases an extremely beautiful cast-iron glass roof in the famous Art Nouveau style similar to the one inside the Gran Hotel. Once you have strolled through the extensive shopping areas, cross over the street into the way less chic El Nuevo Mundo store and fill yourself a bag with local sweets and candy like chocolate covered strawberry marshmallows or dried limes filled with sweet coconut. Then head over to Zócalo and tame your sweet tooth while watching the lively street scene on Mexico City´s largest public square. Absolutely fun!
Avenida 20 de Noviembre NO 5, Centro, 06060 Cuauhtemoc, CDMX
It is not the interiors that made me choose the university library to be added to my list, but the out of the ordinary decorated facades that secured her an unofficial ninth place. Having opened the doors for the first time in April 1956, Biblioteca Central holds today an impressive collection of over 1,445,109 volumes distributed over books, journals and magazines, newspapers and brochures, multimedia CD´s and thesis. It is one of, if not the largest collection in entire Mexico. The artistically designed facade was created by Mexican artist Juan O´Gorman and shows two different murals (the Pre-Hispanic and the Colonial Past). It is called Historic Representation of Culture and was one of the reasons to help the library and the campus to be classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. It truly is a stand-out artwork and worth the journey by metro (Copilco) plus a 15 minutes walk. Like mentioned before, the interiors are not as impressive, yet spending a little bit of time on the campus and in the lively neighborhood around the metro station makes absolutely up for this.
Circuito Interior S/N, Ciudad Universitaria, Cd. Universitaria, 04510 Coyoacán, CDMX