Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Walk Down Juárez From Alameda Central Park To Plaza de la Constitución - Mexico City

On our first day out and about in Mexico City we walked down a street called Juarez starting at Alameda Central Park all the way to the Plaza de la Constitución, as known as Zocalo.  There are many attraction on this road and it was about a mile walk one way.

We did get all the way down the road on the first day but didn't have time to see all the sights we wanted to on that day so we had to retrace our steps another day to hit them all.  If you read my first post on Mexico City you will remember it was really only a half day that first day since we got to Mexico City so much later than we expected.  I am sure you could hit all the sights in one day if you get an earlier start than we did.

Juarez street has very beautiful things to see, so let's take a look.

In the center of Alameda Central Park on the Juarez street side there is a homage to Benito Juarez.  Benito Juarez was the president of Mexico in the mid 1860's and he was BELOVED by the public.  I mean you don't get a HUGE hemicycle build in your honor for nothing!

Benito Juarez Chamber Alameda Park Mexico City

Across the street from the hemicycle is Juarez Plaza.  The Museum of Memory and Tolerance is in the plaza which I will blog about at a later date since we didn't go in one this day.  The plaza itself has a neat water feature.  There are 1,034 red pyramids situated in the shallow water.  This photo may not look like much but when the plaza is viewed from an aerial perspective on Google maps it is REALLY impressive!

Water attraction with Pyramids at Plaza Juarez Mexico City

Back on the same side as the hemicycle of Benito Juarez but further down we saw one of the world's most beautiful buildings!  It is called Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes).

Palace of Fine Art Street View Mexico City

From the ground it is pretty, but if you cross the street and go up to the 8th floor of the Sears store there is a cafe up there plus other windows facing the palace where you can have views like this.  Stunning!

Palace of Fine Art View from Sears across street Mexico City

Back on the ground and continuing down Juarez we came the House of Tiles (Casa de los Azulejos).  It was built by the Count del Valle de Orizaba family and three of its sides are completely covered in the expensive blue and white tile from the Mexico state of Puebla. It is currently a Sanborns department store and restaurant.

House of Tiles Bottom Floor Mexico City

Here is a close up of some of the tiles.  I am semi-sure they are all handpainted but I do know for sure they were all beautiful!

Closeup of House of Tiles Mexico City

One more shot of the House of Tiles just because I liked the dragon lamppost!

Dragon Lamp Post at House of Tiles Mexico City

After the House of Tiles there were lots of shops and restaurants until we got to the Plaza de la Constitución, also known as Zócalo.  Zocalo is the main square in Mexico City and it is humongous!!  Even the flag at the plaza is giant!

Mexician Flag Zocalo Mexico City

The flag is so large that we could see it from our hotel which was almost 2 miles away!!  TWO MILES!!   I was able to take a picture of it FROM the hotel!  (Ok, yes, I zoomed in with my camera, BUT still!)

Huge Flag at the Zolaco Seen From Our Hotel Mexico City

One of the buildings surrounding the plaza is the Metropolitan Cathedral.  It is the largest cathedral in all of the Americas!

Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

When we got there they were starting to close off parts of the cathedral for the day.  We walked in the door and stopped to ask an attendant a question in English.  (As I mentioned there were not many people there who spoke English, so when we found one we asked questions!)  This attendant was a small older man who answered our questions and then asked if wanted a tour of the cathedral.  We said yes and he walked us through very quickly since they were in the process of closing.  I didn't stop to take pictures knowing we would come back another day to absorb more of the atmosphere at a slower pace. (I will tell you all about the inside in another post.) He gave a very nice quick tour of the inside and then took us outside to see a statue of the newest saint, Saint Pope John Paul II.

John Paul Statue Made of Keys at Metropolitan Cathedral Mexico City


That was one of my favorite photos of the trip.  I like this next one too.

Side of John Paul Statue Made of Keys at Metropolitan Cathedral Mexico City

I like this photo as well, but not just because I think it looks cool. You see, this statue had an attribute unlike any other I have seen.  This statue was made entirely of keys!

John Paul Statue Made of Keys From Bottom at Metropolitan Cathedral Mexico City

In fact, the guide told us that even some of his keys had been used in the making of this statue.  What was on his keyring now was duplicates!  How cool is that??

After our guide took us around he then said, "Now comes the part of the tour that I don't like.  I have to charge you for this tour. It is 150 pesos."

That is about $12 USD.

Grrrr!!!

Granted that made it $6 for each of us and we did learn things we wouldn't have known otherwise, but him not being upfront about it was just wrong.

Wrong!

I thought I could trust small older men.  Maybe it isn't trust I feel towards them, but the knowledge that I can outrun or physically hurt them?  Maybe that is it....

So, be sure to ask the price of everything up front or you will have surprises at the end like we did!

Anyhow, one of the days we were in Mexico City it was the opening day of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  We just happened to be at the Zocalo during the first game and the city had these HUGE screens set up for people to watch.

We walked around the plaza and watched the people watching the game.  It was Brazil vs. Croatia, not even Mexico and most of the people around were glued to the screens.  They were not talking or on their phones, all eyes were riveted on the game!

Mexico vs Brazil World Cup Zocalo Mexico City


Besides the cathedral there are also many government buildings surrounding the Zocalo including the National Palace (Palacio Nacional).  Now this palace is not just any palace, this is where the president of Mexico lives.

The PRESIDENT of the ENTIRE country!

And we were allowed to just waltz right in (after going through security that is, which was easier to get through than at airports!).  In fact we only saw a one person guarding one door once we were inside. This just blew my mind.  In America we are only allowed to see where our president lives from a distance.  There is no getting close to the building, let alone going in unannounced!

National Palace Mexico City


We didn't go in the first day because it was already so late in the day that they were closed.  We did go back and will tell you all about it in a later post.

I have one final photo of the Zocalo that I would like to share with you.  It is a panoramic of the entire plaza.

Panoramic of Zocalo Plaza Mexico City

Since we walked to the Zocalo from the hotel, guess what.  We had to walk back.   Of course, there are always things to see!

We kept seeing this little door in the gates of the shops.  The gates were halfway down on some of them with this little door open.  Some had the gate all the way down with the door open and some were just closed.

Small Door in Gate of Store Mexico City

These doors were tiny!  Frankie stood by one to help show the size.  Now keep in mind, Frankie is 6 foot 1 inch so it might make the door seems smaller, but really they were small!  I think I would have to duck and I am 5 foot 1 inch myself!  Still not sure of the purpose of those doors, but there you go.


Frankie in Front of Open Small Door in Gate of Store Mexico City


We stopped to eat just as it started to rain.  As I looked out the door I saw a delivery bicycle and liked the way it looked.  We saw lots of things being delivered by bicycle while in Mexico City.  I am not talking small things either!

Delivery Bicycle with Umbrella Mexico City


Speaking of eating, we didn't have to eat just Mexican food while there, not that I would have complained!  We managed to find funky Asian inspired fare.  The following picture is of a sweet and sour chicken with vegetables sandwich.  It was yummy!

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Vegetables from Articulo 123 Cafe Mexico City


We ate, the rain let up, and we made the walk back to the hotel.

Final photo of the day, Mexico City at night from the hotel.

Night View of Mexico City from Hotel


In my next post I will go back and give more details about the Museum of Memory and Tolerance.

So until then!

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