Museo Nacional de Anthropologia and the Templo Mayor

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Mexico Series: Part 3

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Day 1. We’ll visit the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia and the Templo Mayor

Since we’re all armchair travelers here and price is no object, I asked myself where we should stay. I settled on the Polanco, the area where I lived with my mother and also where my character Lili works while she’s in Mexico City. The nice thing is it’s within walking distance of the Anthropology Museum, which will be day one’s destination. Great shops. Great restaurants, too, like Pujol and Izote.

But what hotel?

We could stay in the traditional and exclusive Casa Vieja with its charming rooftop dining area. After all, we can afford the seven hundred dollar a night price tag — at least in our dreams, right? Or maybe we should stay at the ultra modern Hotel Habita, the modernist cause célèbre on Avenida Mazaryk completely surrounded by sanded glass. Designed by the Grupo TEN Achitectos who won the Mies Van der Rohe Award for Latin American Architecture, this much-talked-about building boasts an extremely chic rooftop bar — the place to see and be seen. My character, Lili, ends up there one afternoon in desperate need of an ice cold martini. They make good ones. I know because I’ve had them!

No, I thought, we should find someplace both modern and ancient like the city itself, and so I settled on the Camino Real where we can hob-nob with diplomats, industry titans and billionaires like Carlos Slim. The Camino Real was designed by Ricardo Legorreta, one of Mexico’s most famous architects, a student of Luis Barragan and the person who brought the Mexican vernacular to the world stage.

On day one, we’ll begin by walking through Chapultepec Park to the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia. This impressive museum is to Mexico City — a city, I should say, that is filled with museums, — what the Met is to New York City or the Louvre is to Paris. It is the place to begin.

We’ll walk past the Paragua— the umbrella— a reference to the rain-god Tlaloc, to the diorama of the Sacred Perimeter of Gran Tenochitlan — the city of the Mexicas. Above the diorama, you can see the painting of the whole city of Tenochitlan as envisioned by the artist Miguel Covarrubias. Like Venice, Italy, Tenochitlan was built on islands, in this case both real and man-made, in the middle of Lake Texcoco. Travel was done by boat, though the city streets, according to the Spaniards, were wide enough for ten horses to ride side by side. This is the view the Spaniards might have had of the great kingdom of the Aztecs, one of those worlds within worlds you are always aware of here.

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