Shimmering Soumaya Museum

Modern and present earthlings’ visit and holiday to Mexico City would now no longer be complete without visiting the Soumaya Museum.  Hailed as a new landmark, this weird looking building in the city is a private museum owned by the richest living earthling Carlos Slim. 

Named after the wife of the owner who passed away in 1999, Soumaya Museum building is one of the weirdest-looking modern architecture that I have ever seen!  It is so weird that I could not actually ascertain its geometrical shape.  Add to its weirdness is its being windowless and that the whole building glimmers and sparkles when hit by the rays of the sunshine!

And since the owner is filthy rich, admission inside the museum is free. Only the blind would miss the bronze cast of Rodin’s The Thinker upon entering the open airy lobby.  There’s also a colorful mural (considered to be one of the last works) done by Diego Rivera pointing toward the restrooms.

the lobby!

 

la puerta del infierno (the gates of hell) Ang taray ng title!

look at how tiny the people are at the bottom of this photo

Art collections found inside Soumaya Museum are all so grand and ostentatious.  It is dominated by the great works European artists, including El Greco, Van Gogh, Degas, Matisse and Picasso.  There are also a spectacular section of religious art which includes the Mexican portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Spanish painting of the Virgin of Toledo and surprisingly intricate ivory sculptures of Jesus hanged on the Cross done by Filipino artisans.

And like in any other museum, it has been my tradition of choosing a collection that I am most impressed with.  Soumaya Museum had three amazing collections that enticed, engrossed and charmed my wits.

El Pansador (The Thinker by Auguste Rodin). I need to have a photo with this masterpiece
Joven de Bou-saada (Young Girl of Bou-saada). It looks so real, it scares me!

If art feeds the soul, Soumaya Museum would definitely have you so full! This was indeed a very enriching adventure! 

Hugis ano?

Castillo De Chapultepec

A castle is the last thing I am expecting to find when I decided to tour and visit Mexico City.  But expect the unexpected because I found Chapultepec Castle or Castillo De Chapultepec which is also unexpectedly located in the middle of a very huge park, the Chapultepec Park.  This park is so big, it is even bigger than the famous Central Park of New York City.    

The funny thing is, while roaming around the castle area, I am reminded by a number of things and I am telling myself that I have seen such place in the past.  And then I realized that this was the place where some scenes were shot in the 1996 movie Romeo & Juliet starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Clare Danes.  It was the set of the Capulet Mansion in that movie! 

The castle has been home for different purposes throughout its long history.  It has been a military academy, a presidential home, of course the royal residence, as well as an observatory.  Now it houses Mexico’s National Museum of History.      

It is the only castle in North America ever actually used as a royal home.  It was the residence of Emperor Maximilian I and his wife Empress Carlota.  And during such time, it was still considered to be in the outskirts of Mexico City.  This emperor then wanted to connect his castle to the main city.  He then ordered the construction of a road so as to link it to the energetic city.  That road now is known as the bustling and affluent Paseo Dela Reforma. 

paseo dela reforma

 The construction of the castle started in 1775 and in 1806 it was purchased by Mexico City’s municipal government.  It was mostly abandoned during the Mexican War of Independence.  But it rose to prominence again with the story that is probably the most famous event that has taken place in that castle, the Niños Heroes (or Hero Children). 

Niños Heroes are six Mexican boys who defended the castle against the U.S. soldiers invasion of the castles in September 13, 1847 during the bloody Mexican-American War.  These boys are now permanently honored throughout the grounds of the castle through massive sculptures, artifact exhibits and a commemorative mural painting.  

Besides the beauty of the castle itself, there are lovely gardens and grounds.  You also got fantastic view of the city and the park’s surroundings.  And since it is now the National Museum of History, there are also historical artifacts, exhibits and furnishings that I really enjoyed seeing.

Chapultepec Castle caught me in such a big surprise, that it is one site that I would recommend seeing when in Mexico City.  It was one lovely and surprisingly enriching visit.

Mapapa-biba Meksiko ka sa ganda!

Templo Mayor & Piedra Del Sol

In my recent travel, I spent all my visiting days in Mexico City.  I opted to stay in the city and not move out or visit other places in Mexico because I prefer to completely immerse to the city’s rich culture.  This of course is beside the motive of giving myself a reason to go back to Mexico. Hahaha!

Mexico City is too vast to fully explore in two weeks and it’s seem impossible to see and experience the city in just a couple of days.  And what is good about staying in Mexico City is that visitors can still see and experience the old Mexico because right at the city center exists a very cool ruins called Templo Mayor.

templo mayor ruins  
the city beneath mexico city
a massive ancient metropolis 
portions of templo mayor

The incredible thing about Templo Mayor is that it is right near Zocalo, the center square of Mexico Ciity.  And that the existing and present city of Mexico was actually built on top of it.  Its like Templo Mayor ruins is just beneath the grounds of the present modern city.

Here’s one cool lecture and quick history lesson!  When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico City, it was actually an Aztec city at that time.  The Aztec people known as Mexica people had a huge beautiful city.  And basically the Spaniards (though they did not destroyed it), built over and on top of this Aztec City a new and modern metropolis.  So the huge Catholic cathedrals in downtown Mexico are actually built on the foundation of an ancient ruin.  And this ruin is known as Templo Mayor.

Templo Mayor as I noticed is still actually being studied and dug up.  It is a work in progress so as to fully understand the culture, customs, civilization and background of ancient Mexico.  It is so cool to know that the existing city is actually on top of another city!

And one of the major archeological find in Templo Mayor is the Sun Stone or locally known as the Piedra Del Sol.  Discovered in 1790, the Sun Stone now is housed at the National Anthropology Museum of Mexico City and is considered the most famous work of Aztec sculpture. 

piedra del sol (the sun stone)
the usual and common design on mexico souvenir shirts

When I personally saw such a massive monolithic sculpture, my jaw simply dropped!  I could not describe the elation when I saw the Sun Stone!  I could not believe that I am actually seeing the actual figure and image of the most iconic sculpture in Mexico! 

This sculpture is one of Mexico’s famous symbols.  It is basically printed in almost all types of Mexican souvenir items (shirts, mugs, wall decors, keychains, etc.).  I did quite a number of readings about Piedra Del Sol after I have been stunned by the massiveness and beauty of it.  And I have learned that there was even a poem that was composed by a Nobel prize-winning poet because of the beauty, mystery and grandeur of such an epic piece of stone. 

12 feet in diameter and weighs 24 tons
ding ang bato!

There are a lot of different theories that historians and archeologists have about the stone’s meaning, its use and its intention.  Some think it was used as a calendar and some say it has some significance concerning ancient religion, geography, politics or even something else that hasn’t yet been thought of.

But whatever its original meaning, it is arguably now the most important Aztec sculpture that exists in the world today.  As for me, I prefer not to interpret nor even think deeper.  I simply prefer to be marveled by the beauty, intricacy and grandeur of such a massive piece of work.

Parang gusto ko iuwi nung nakita ko yang batong yan!

Wowed by Biblioteca Vasconcelos

If you don’t know me yet, and though I don’t look like one, let me tell you that I absolutely love books and reading.  That is why when I travel, there is always a book that I would bring along with me.

So when I heard that there is a unique mega library in Mexico City and even though it is not included in Tripadvisor’s the top 15 destinations to visit in Mexico City, I know that this would be a place that I have to check out.

It’s Biblioteca Vasconcelos!  I didn’t know really what to expect.  But when I walked in, I literally let go of a massive gasp.  It was so loud,  a bunch of quiet people inside the building knew that there is an elated first timer who has just entered.   

This place is unlike any other places that I have been to.  The architecture is incredibly unique and it is not just like any other library but unlike any other place I have ever seen!  And the more entire I went, the more incredible it becomes.

After the first initial wow impression, the next thing I noticed is just the sheer scale and size of the building.  The uniqueness is that you would see people around: beside you, beneath you and above you.  Some of the floors are actually thick translucent glass.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos opened in 2007 and has over half a million books.  It got its name after Jose Vasconcelos who is a Mexican philosopher, a former presidential candidate and was also the president of the national library of Mexico.   

I noticed that the walls are transparent and that the floors seem mismatched.  It also have very intricate staircases and balconies, it reminds me of the movie Inception in a scene where things were folding on to each other.  I really felt like I was in a sci-fi novel.  It gave me the feeling of being set in the future which not many equally awesome buildings could do.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos is called a mega library because it is actually 5 libraries merged into one.  And each one library is dedicated and pay homage to Mexico’s great thinkers.

One thing that really takes center stage inside this library is the massive white whale skeleton done by an artist named Gabriel Orozco.  The whale’s skeleton, fitted onto a metal armature and inscribed with granite rings and circles, hangs suspended in midair.  It seem visible from almost all sections and every point within the library.

The library is so massive, there are tons of areas where people can sit and work.  Entrance of course is for free and there is free wifi.  And what is best is that Tripadvisor seem to have yet discover this place as one cool tourist destination. 

If you are a book lover like me or an architecture fanatic or just want to see a really unique place within Mexico City, then Biblioteca Vasconcelos is definitely worth a visit.  

Waw as is WAW!

Impressions of Mexico City

I planned of going to Mexico City more than 6 months ago.  I purchased my airfare and booked my hotels about the same time.  Problems arose along the way especially regarding the online travel agent I got who cancelled and refunded my 6-month old plane ticket 10 days prior to the actual flight and have yet to inform me the reasons for such cancellation.  Two days after such cancellation, I still decided to still push through with the adventure by courageously buying a Turkish Airline ticket bound for Mexico City.

Prior to me leaving for Mexico City, lots of friends and colleagues are questioning me why I chose to do a solo travel in such a dingy and dangerous place.  They relayed that they have read and heard a lot about Mexico City being precarious, unsafe and pick-pocket infested.  But since it is one country that welcomes me without having to apply for a tourist visa (since I am a US and Japan multiple entry visa holder), I did not listen to friends and relatives and still push through with my journey.   

Now, I am here in remarkable Mexico City, spending almost two weeks already – not that I am asking – yet I have yet to feel and experience the worry and uneasiness that my friends and colleagues has informed me.  I must admit that I was a bit worried at first, but all these anxiety and fear were totally erased once I walked the busy streets of the city.  This was fully reinforced when I survived a train ride during a rush hour!  Besides, I grew up in a similarly perilous and dodgy City of Pasay in Manila, thus, I can actually use my innate and fully developed skill in dealing with the crooks, the felonious and the delinquents.

Similar to Metro Manila, Mexico City is vast and humongous!  But I personally prefer the weather of this city as compared to the Manila weather.  Mexico got 4 seasons, Manila got 2.  You can never let me wear a jacket outdoors in Manila, because it is either hot or very hot!

I hate to compare but the architecture in Mexico is a bit better as compared to the structures found in Manila.  Metro train system in Mexico City is of course more intricate and more reliable as compared to the rundown, often-busted and politically-exploited metro train in Manila.  And though Philippines and Mexico similarly experienced more than 300 years of Spanish rule, Mexico seem to have maintained its Spanish roots because they seem to possess more European looking buildings.     

The similarity between Manila and Mexico City I guess would be regarding cleanliness and the people.  There are lots of people everywhere and both cities needs to improve a lot concerning cleanliness! Another similarity would be the traffic.  Though Mexico has intricate and more developed metro train, its traffic is as bad as that of Manila.  Both cities are traffic-infested!

Mexico City love art!  One noticeable person printed on their money (500 Mexican peso denomination) is an art goddess, Frida Khalo.  Also, I was actually surprised to find out that this city got the most number of museums.  And even on the street, people tend to express themselves through art.  Humongous mural arts, lots of colorful graffiti and numerous art performances can be seen on the streets of the city.      But I guess the one thing that Manila is better as compared to Mexico would be the smile.  Though Mexicans tend to be more passionate and expressive – there’s lots of sensual kissing inside the train, amatory hugging on the streets and even lgbt members freely holding hands while walking – we in Manila smile more, we seem kindlier and seem gentler as compared to the fierce and audacious people of Mexico City.

If you would ask me if I will go back and revisit Mexico City.  I would definitely will!

Di naman nakaka-shokot… Biba Meksiko!

A Visit at Mexico’s Biggest Museum

If you are a tourist in Mexico City, a visit to a museum seem inevitable.  Reason behind this is because this city has the most number of museums in the world.

For an initial Mexico City museum salvo, let me then feature not just any type of a museum.  Let me introduce to you the Museo Nacional de Antropologia or the National Museum of Antropology.  Reason why it is so special is because it is the most visited and the biggest museum in Mexico.  It’s a staggering 8 hectares all in all!

After walking through the humongous and vast entrance area of the museum, the first this that any visitor of this museum would notice would be this…

its called “el paraguas” the umbrella

The museum since it’s so big is divided into 22 different section halls.  I started with section 1 of course, the Introduction to Anthropology and planned to finish all sections in one visit.  But after an hour and a half of marveling at various features (I reached half of section 4), I started to feel some sensory overload.  I started to feel so overwhelmed that I can’t seem to take in so much anthropological stimulus and information anymore.

Since I have seen so much, I started to slow down.  And instead of trying to see everything, I tried to just really focus on few specific things.  I then decided to head straight to the section where there are most number of people.  That is at the Mexica section or the hall number 6.

I was not surprised anymore that this seem to be the section where there are lots of people.  It is because this is the hall that houses the most emblematic exhibit of the museum, the Piedra Del Sol or the Sun Stone.  This is so special, that I think I will write separately on how I felt seeing this Aztec sculpture. 

piedra del sol (the stone sun)

 

Other exhibits that caught my attention were… 

the super massive… aztec goddess coatlicue (the mother of the gods who gave birth to the moon, stars and the god of the sun and war) taray!
brasero chicomecoatl (the goddess of corn)
stone of motecuhzoma

I highly recommend this place to those who are interested on human societies that thrived, lived and existed in Mexico or simply being a tourist in Mexico City.  The National Museum of Anthropology is located within the Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.  And lucky me, it was free entrance for everyone on the day I visited!  With the grandiosity of this museum, I was all but willing to pay the seventy Mexican pesos entrance fee!

the usual and common design on mexico souvenir shirts

 

Grabe! Oberwelming!

The Blue Mosque of Instanbul

Sultan Ahmed Mosque also known as the Blue Mosque should not be missed by any tourist in Istanbul.  Set on one side of the magnificent Sultanahmet Square, this vast mosque with high-domed ceiling is accessible to non-worshippers only at certain times of the day.

But don’t let the time of its closure put you off! The beautiful exterior can be considered one engineering marvel.  It is tagged to be one of the most impressive monuments in the world.  And its interior is a beautiful display that exudes peace, harmony and goodwill.

Can’t say much about this place for I was astounded by the massive beauty of the Blue Mosque.  Let me just post numerous photos I took of this majestic world wonder. 

Ang ganda!