Mexico is one of these colorful countries that bursts in history wherever you lay foot on. A visit to the impressive Museo Nacional de Antropología, nestled beautifully into the green lung of the city, Chapultepec Park, is a wonderful way to explore the country´s rich heritage presented in world-class architecture. And the best, admission is completely free on weekends!
It was more than luck when I got called for a two nights Mexico City rotation out of my standby line, as it was actually intended to cushion any drop-outs from the A380 crew. So here I found myself heading to one of my favorite destinations, a shopping list for Mexican cheeses and chilis in my luggage and looking forward to a weekend filled with culture and relaxation. It had been over a year that I was last in town and I could not wait to be back.
It is the largest and most visited museum in whole Mexico and it features many interesting artifacts from the country´s pre-Columbian heritage.
It was designed in 1964 by architects Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, Jorge Campuzano, and Rafael Mijares Alcérreca and contains several exhibition halls and a major entrance that group around an open courtyard with a massive construction in the center, which resembles a vast square concrete umbrella supported by a single slender pillar.
An overall of 23 rooms cover the area of over 79,700 square meters. Large enough to include replicas of ancient temples and huge statues, for example. The central courtyard forms the focal point of the building and is a great place to enjoy a little break in between.
The permanent exhibitions on the ground floor cover all pre-Columbian civilizations located on the current territory of Mexico as well as in former Mexican territory in what is today the southwestern United States. They are classified as North, West, Mayan, Gulf of Mexico, Oaxaca, Mexico, Toltec, and Teotihuacan. The permanent expositions at the first floor show the culture of Native American population of Mexico since the Spanish colonization.
The museum also hosts visiting exhibits, generally focusing on other of the world’s great cultures. Like a flight into the world of Buddhism with various collectibles as of October 2018.
I personally enjoyed the massive reproductions of ancient temples, tombs and statues the most. As well as the insight into handcrafted jewelry and ceramics.
There is also very interesting insight into the everyday life of the people of the different eras displayed.
And lots of information about religion, belief, habits and rituals. Wonderfully underlined by attention to detail replicas.
Particularly the true to scale models of temples and other buildings help to understand how extremely advanced this civilization was. Very impressive!
This guy here, in example, must have spent a bit too much time inside the museum. Just joking :).
One of the most popular exhibits is the Mortuary mask of K’inich Janaab’ Pakal. This ruler is known as the longest sovereign in the history of the Americas and he was responsible for the construction or extension of some of Palenque’s most notable surviving inscriptions and monumental architecture.
A view into his reproduced mausoleum.
Having been one of the Maya´s metropoles, Palenque´s ruins still cast a magic spell to the surrounding jungle today.
Another highlight of mine were these modeled temples outside the main building with extremely colorful and detailed murals. Gorgeous.
What an amazing artistic work, right?
This beautiful tomb was found in Monte Albán, one of the earliest Mesoamerican cities founded.
Being able to always step out into the fresh air after visiting another exhibition hall is truly a wonderful extra during the visit. I also think, that the modern architecture does well carry on the typical style of ancient times, don´t you agree?
A cuauhxicalli or quauhxicalli (meaning “eagle gourd bowl”) was an altar-like stone vessel used by the Aztecs to hold human hearts extracted in sacrificial ceremonies. A cuauhxicalli would often be decorated with animal motifs, commonly eagles or jaguars. Another kind of cuauhxicalli is the Chacmool-type which is shaped as a reclining person holding a bowl on his belly.
The amazing head feather headdress by Tenochtitlan´s ninth ruler, the world-renown Montezuma II.
If you have been to Teotihuacan before, you will find many archeological discoveries in one of the exhibition halls.
Including a partly reproduction of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent which lies South of both the pyramids.
You might recognize the structure and the decoration, here displayed the way that it looked like back then. Inside, a tomb is hidden behind the massive walls.
What an amazing afternoon this was! And it was also wonderful to see how many locals, including families with children, take advantage of the free admission on weekends. A fantastic way to keep cultures alive! And once you are exhausted after your dose of history, sit down in one of the hanging chairs at Starbucks right across the street and enjoy a beautiful cup of coffee in the serenity of Chapultepec Park.
Oh, and don´t forget to pay visit to the museum´s shop. I got myself a pair of beautifully crafted cuff links that will always remind me of this wonderful day in Mexico City.