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!

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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!

Bravura of Hagia Sophia

VoucherCloud, a money-saving app, last year released a world map that identifies each country’s most popular tourist destination based on TripAdvisor’s top-rated “things to do” feature.  Surprisingly and with a bit of disappointment, the stand out for my country, the Philippines, was Kayangan Lake.  But where is that?  I wonder how this lake beat and knocked out world-class destinations like El Nido, Boracay and Bohol.

spectacular especially at night
massive indoor view
impressive minbar, the pulpit where the imam stands to delivers sermons
grand calligraphic panes!
selfie muna
monolithic marble cubes: these massive liquid container is used to distribute juice to the public for holy nights and prayer celebrations

But when I checked Turkey, I was super happy to know that this beautiful country’s top destination was the Hagia Sophia.  Though they seem to be a flop in the Philippines, VoucherCloud and TripAdvisor are so correct with the Turkey result.  I have recently been to Turkey and only a stupid, puny and absurd tourist will miss the majesty, grandeur and beauty of the great Hagia Sophia.

As one of Turkey’s most celebrated landmark, the great Hagia Sophia was a Byzantine church for 916 years. It was later converted into an imperial mosque by a Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and stayed as such for 482 years.  Then in 1935, it was transformed into a museum and was later considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It may have a turbulent past but because of its rich and significant historical background, Hagia Sophia easily earns respect from all religions and occupations.

Though every nook and corner of this building seem to have an intense and loud story to tell and despite being the busiest and most visited attraction in Turkey, the Hagia Sophia still maintains its calm and peaceful effect towards its visitors.

I don’t have a tip on how to explore this ancient structure.  The only advice I can give to all those who will be fortunate to visit this top Turkish destination is to breathe, digest and admire the bravura of the rich stories of this spectacular structure.

mother mary with baby jesus in the middle. to the left is emperor john komnenos while to her right is empress irene
theotokos! apse mosaic
lovely dome
ancient deisis mosaic treasure…
at awe!

Nakakamangha!

Stepping Into the Good Olden Days of Osaka

Only now that I realized that in the past 7 times that I have travelled to Japan, only few times did I went to a public art museum.  Reason maybe is because Japan in itself is one whole country of a public museum.  Everything you see, touch and feel seem worthy of being preserved, collected and exhibited.

When I go to a foreign country, I often set aside a day to visit either an art, cultural or historical museum.  I call it my “cultural day”.  A day when my soul is fed with art, history and culture.  But being in Japan, everyday seem to be a “cultural day”.

LIFE doesn’t come with an instruction manual, it comes with a MOTHER!

 

Though it is my 8th journey to Japan, this visit is still something different.  It is because I got to go and check on an actual museum.  And what is so unique about it is that I myself seem to be part of the museum’s exhibit.

While my nieces and nephews settled to go to Osaka’s Universal Studios, accompanied by one of my nieces, I, my sisters and Nengkoy went to Osaka Museum of Housing & Living.

super fun dressing up!
i love this shot!
what’s cooking?
gabi na! hahaha!

 

i call this the “rabbies shot”! hahaha!

The whole museum is a replica of an old Japanese town, specifically during Japan’s Edo period.  The cool thing about this museum is you got to rent and wear clothes of people during that era.  Thus, visitors donned in kimonos and yukatas can interactively feel how it really was 200 years ago in Osaka.

Adding up the modern Japanese technology, the lighting and sound simulations of the whole museum would shift, in which visitors would get to witness how it is to be during early morning dawn, daytime and nighttime period of the Edo era.   The awesome feeling was like stepping into  the good olden days of Osaka!

super fun peeping back into some japanese history…

Ang galing!