Mexico City First Impressions

Arrived in Mexico City at 6:20 am, after almost 24 hours of air travel and waiting in airports. On the way to my hotel, while stuck in traffic, I was intrigued by the many sculptures and monuments along the Paseo de la Reforma, including this one.

Monument at the Glorieta Peralvilla, where the yearly procession to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe begins.
Monument at the Glorieta Peralvilla, where the yearly procession to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe begins.

The Paseo de la Reforma is a long and wide avenue running through Mexico City, patterned upon the Champs-Elysees and other grand boulevards in Europe.

What I like about it are the monuments and sculptures throughout the avenue (and the city actually). Foremost among these would be the Monumento a la Independencia (nicknamed El Angel because of the 22-feet statue of Nike, the winged goddess of victory, on top of the column), around which Mexicans congregate during World Cup victories.

The Monumento a la Independencia, with a modern sculpture in the foreground.
The Monumento a la Independencia, with a modern sculpture in the foreground.
Monumento a la Independencia (detail). Can you see the people below the statue of Winged Victory?
Monumento a la Independencia (detail). Can you see the people below the statue of Winged Victory?

Next in prominence would be the statue of Cuauhtemoc, the 25-year-old ruler of the Aztec triple alliance, who fought against the Spanish invaders in 1521. He reminds me of Datu Lapu-Lapu, the first Philippine hero, who also fought against the Spanish invaders in 1521. Unlike Lapu-Lapu, who defeated Fernando Magellan in the Battle of Mactan, Cuauhtemoc lost to Hernando Cortez and was tortured to death.

Monument to Cuauhtemoc, possibly the first Mexican hero
Monument to Cuauhtemoc, possibly the first Mexican hero

Mexico City’s Centro Historico and its environs remind me of the major cities of Europe, what with Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical buildings all over, such as the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Neoclassical, Art Nouveau) and the Metropolitan Cathedral (Baroque, Gothic).

Palacio de Bellas Artes and Palacio del Correo
Palacio de Bellas Artes and Palacio del Correo
Museo de Bellas Artes (detail)
Museo de Bellas Artes (detail)

There are also lots of modern sculptures and buildings all over the city, such at these:

El Caballito, in front of the Torre del Caballito
El Caballito, in front of the Torre del Caballito
Cards
Cards
Museo Soumaya, which contains a lot of sculptures by Rodin
Museo Soumaya, which contains a lot of sculptures by Rodin

This afternoon, we are going to Cuernavaca for the IALU conference, but when I come back to Mexico City, I will take a closer look at the beauty of these edifices, since I’ve always loved the medieval, Rennaisance, and neoclassical cathedrals and buildings of Europe. But I also look forward to visiting the ruins of the Aztec empire in the city, as well as Teotihuacan.

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