it is of course a fast moving metropolis, Mexico City still has
its share of charming hideaways that are ideal for leisurely strolls
and getting swept up by the rhythms of its people and the proud
displays of its past.
Let's start at Madero Avenue: This avenue was the promenade
for Mexican society during the colonial period and continued to
be so throughout the 19th and well into the 20th century. It is
now on every itinerary of Mexico City's Historic center, which was
declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1987.
Though in the 16th century the avenue bore the name San Francisco,
after the monastery that graced it, in the 1800´s it became
Plateros (silversmiths) due to the fact that many of the city's
silversmiths set up shop there. To this day, the avenue has a great
number of jewelry showrooms. Finally, in the last century, it was
given the Francisco I. Madero, in honor of the man who started the
San Francisco Church and Former Monastery (1525) was at one time
an enormous religious and administrative complex spreading over
more than 30 hectares, and its atrium was said to hold up to 60,000
standing individuals. Nowadays the little that remains of that great
splendor includes the church, once one of the chapels, and the baroque
frontispiece of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which opens onto Madero
Avenue. The ancient chapel of the Purísima Concepción
and a fragment of the cloister also remain. The latter currently
houses the Holy Trinity Methodist Church, with its entrance on Gante
It is interesting to stop at the contiguous doorways of the baroque
San Francisco and neo-gothic San Felipe de Jesús (1895) churches
and observe the contrasting styles of the façades. Madero
and Gante: The High Life building, designed by architect Silvio
Contri, stands at the corner of these two streets. It is an example
of the commercial elegance of the beginning of the 20th century,
created here by a stylistic combination typical of the period's
Palacio de Iturbide (1785): Once the house of the Marquis of Jaral
de Berrio, Count of San Mateo de Valparaíso, since 1966 it
has been owned by Banamex (one of Mexico's most important banking
institutions). The building's marvelous façade contains both
organic and geometric motifs sculpted in the volcanic and quarry
rock. Note the double-tailed mermaids adorning the pilasters at
the entrance and the atlas figures or staff-bearers over the door.
Borda House: The mansion belonged to miner José de la Borda,
but only the façade remains. It features a balcony, which its
owner had built so that he could walk around the block without having
to go down to street level. The Serfin Museum occupying the interior
of the building is dedicated to Mexican clothing, and exhibits both
indigenous and colonial costumes.
The Hotel Ritz houses a restaurant, which boasts a mural by Miguel
Covarrubias. This work parodies the famous Diego Rivera mural "Sueño
de una tarde dominical en la Alameda.
La Profesa Church (remodeled in 1720). In 1802, Manuel Tolsá
transformed the baroque (with gothic touches) interior décor
into a neoclassical one. The finest example of this transformation
is the High Altar. In contrast, the Isabel la Católica Avenue
façade is one of the most valuable pieces of Mexican baroque
art. Adjacent to the church is a vice regal art museum. In recent
years, La Profesa has become a popular place for wedding ceremonies,
with the receptions held in the nearby Casino Español.
Mexico City's main square, or Zócalo, from Madero Avenue
is like emerging onto a large lake from a narrow gorge. Space opens
up, and the heavy ornamentation from the colonial period and 19th
century gives way to Pre-Hispanic geometric patterns. Although colonial
buildings surround the main square, none, with the exception of
the entrance to the Cathedral Sacrarium, display the baroque seen
on the La Profesa and the Virgin of Guadalupe Chapel façades.
To one side stand the ruins of the Aztec High Temple. The area is
dominated by an enormous empty square, above which waves a huge
Mexican flag, which lends light and color to the spot that has been
the heart of Mexico for over 600 years.
Historic center has much to offer in the way of food: everything from
luxurious restaurants to street stands. Outstanding among them, however,
are the Spanish restaurants, with their longstanding culinary tradition.
With the waves of Spanish immigration during the first half of the
20th century, came restaurants offering regional specialties from
all over the Iberian Peninsula. These places have become time-honored
establishments where one can order the fixed menu, which may consist
of six or seven courses. Among the best-known of these restaurants
- Casino Español (Isabel La Católica 31)
- Centro Castellano (República de Uruguay 16)
- El Danubio (República de Uruguay 3)
- Círculo Vasco Español (16 de Septiembre 51)
- El Hórreo (Dr. Mora 11)
- Mesón del Cid (Humboldt 61)
Among the clientele's favorite dishes are caracoles a la bordelesa
(snails Bordelaise), jamón bellotero (acorn ham), chistorra
and morcilla (thin chorizo and blood sausage), paella valenciana,
fabada (navy bean stew), cocido madrileño (chick pea and meta
stew)) solomillo sirloin and zarzuela de mariscos (shellfish stew),
and for dessert, custard creams and puddings. These wonderful dishes
can be washed down with a delicious bottle of La Rioja or Ribera de
Duero wine or a couple of glasses of good Mexican beer.
our hotels offer in Mexico City D.F.
of the text thanks to Mirta Ripol, editor and writer)