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Chic neighbors of Mexico C.
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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The Paseo de la Reforma    "The Champs Elysées of México City"

Paseo de la ReformaThis avenue, which is the most elegant of the arterial streets in the capital city, goes through the city center connecting Chapultepec Park to the residential neighborhood of Lomas.
The Paseo is named after the Movement of Reform led, in the nineteenth century , by the Great patriot, President Benito Juárez. And there is some irony in this denomination since the avenue was built on the orders of Emperor Maximilian who fought against Juárez and almost beat him.
During his brief reign, Maximilian stayed at Chapultepec castle. Built at the end of the Spanish domination, the edifice was never really used before the accession of Mexico to Independence, when it became the location of the Military Academy. Going back to the avenue : Maximilian asked French architects to design a road worthy of the Imperial Majesty connecting his residence in Chapultepec to the offices of the National Palace. It was first called Paseo de los Hombres Ilustres. Each State of the Mexican Union was asked to erect, in various places under the trees, the statue of his most glorious son.


     Right picture : Paseo de la Reforma


El Angel The traffic circles of the Paseo, the glorietas, have been under the invocation of the most disparate personages : Diana Cazadora, Roman goddess of the hunt, work of Vicente Mendiola, bronze-hewn by the sculptor Juan Francisco Olaguibel, and El Angel (the Angel), a graceful winged bright bronze figure on the top of the Corinthian column (36,5m or 120 feet) of the Monumento a la Independencia. This monument was erected in 1910 to commemorate the heroes of the war of Independence. The avenue is lined with towers and luxurious buildings, among them the hotels Sheraton and Maria Isabel and the American Embassy ; further north, the statue of Cuauhtémoc, the last Emperor of the Aztecs, dressed as a warrior, marks the crossing of the Paseo with the Avenida Insurgentes. The base is adorned with low reliefs telling his capture and torture by the conquistadores. It is, in many ways, one of the most interesting monuments of the city. Above all, it is the only one truly Mexican; this authenticity is quite important judging by the monument at the following crossing : the Monumento a Cristóbal Colón, big symbol of the evangelization of the Americas with four months surrounding Christopher Columbus.

Left picture: El Angel

This elegant avenue contains superb examples of architecture, several banks and offices, old residential zones transformed into fashionable neighborhoods, embassies, luxury hotels, select art galleries and spectacular monuments. In fact, Reforma is one of the longuest avenues in Mexico City. In the northeast, it leads to Tlatelolco and Villa de Guadalupe, whereas in the southeast, it crosses Chapultepec, with its outstanding museums and Auditorio Nacional, the finest auditorium in the city, and then it passes trough the state-of-the-art architecture of Santa Fe and beyond that, it makes its way through the leafy vegetation of Desierto de los Leones, in Cuajimalpa.

monument of the revolutionFurther north of the Paseo, at this crossing, the Avenida Juárez changes its name to Ejido and leads to the Monumento a la Revolución. This imposing structure erected at the beginning of the twentieth century by Porfirio Díaz was used as a meeting room for the deputies and senators but the revolution ended the delusion of grandeur of the President. A few years after being abandoned, the imposing dome was dedicated to the Revolution and were laid down, inside its pillar, the graves of the presidents Venustiano Carranza and Francisco Madero, finally reconciled as well as the heroes of independence like Pancho Villa or Lázaro Cárdenas. Go to the museum of the Revolution close to the monumento a la Revolución open Tue-Sat 9AM-5PM, sunday to 3PM, $6 but free on sunday.

     Right picture : monument of the revolution


In front, the Fronton Mexico, big arena in the Arts deco style, is the Mecca of the jai alai (kind of Basque sport proper to Mexico).

A few blocks north, the Museo de San Carlos, set in the old palace Buenavista, hosted for a long time the first Academy of Fine Arts in the country. The famous painters Rivera, Siqueiros and Orozco were students there. Today, as a museum, the edifice keeps works of very famous European painters like Le Greco, Murillo, Rubens, Bosch, Breughel...and has also a room consecrated to the colonial painting (open 10AM-6PM, wed-mon, $25, except sunday and public holidays, free).

At the crossing of the Paseo with the avenues Juárez and Bucareli, stands the big dark tower of the seat of the National Lottery. It is possible, on Tuesday and Friday to attend the drawing of the winning numbers. By the side, the PEMEX tower of the petroleum company symbolizes one of the most important sources of prosperity of the country.

The monument of Independence shows the beginning of the famous Zona Rosa.


The Pink Zone "ZONA ROSA"

Nobody knows where this name comes from. However, every big city in Latin America has its Zona Rosa, a neighborhood with nice fashion boutiques, posh restaurants, and art galleries. This old residential neighborhood from the time of Porfiriato became the sophisticated center in the city. Modern high towers rub elbows with old buildings in a not always appropriate mix but vibrant enough to give you the desire of strolling. Walk from there to the Angel, the statue of liberty on the avenue Reforma, where is held every year official commemorations and sometimes popular events. Serviced by the metro station Insurgentes, the neighborhood is often visited by foreigners because of the banks and Embassies that are there. The Pink Zone still possesses a special charm; boutiques, restaurants, bars and discotheques reflect the presence of all the social groups that congregate there, whose common denominator is their quest for "la vie en rose". Other places of interest include the "Fuente de la Diana", the "Iglesia del Santo Niño", the "Arcos del Acueducto", the "Glorieta de Insurgentes", the "Wax Museum", the "Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón", the University Club, the "Monumento a Cuauhtémoc" and the "Casa-Museo Carranza".

Condesa and Roma
a middle class house in La Condesa
South of Zona Rosa, there are two busy neighborhoods, the Condesa and the Colonia Roma. The first one has restaurants, cafés and trendy clubs, often set in renovated art deco edifices, which gives a chic touch. It is one of the most fashionable parts of the city. Art deco achieved its greatest expression in Latin America here during the first half of the 20th century, through original buildings and public parks. Colonia Condesa dates back to the 1920s and 1930s, when several buildings began to be constructed on an area once occupied by the Countess of Miravalle's Hippodrome. The Condesa has several gardens and green areas, such as Park
"Mexico", the heart of this neighborhood, with its attractive fountains, small lake with ducks, and ponds.
In the Park « Mexico », one of the rare open spaces in the city, you’ll find art galleries cultural centers and bookstores. A large, art deco style open-air theater completes the scene, reflecting the influence of this artistic trend on the area. Another striking aspect of the neighborhood are its colorful roundabouts, all with art deco style fountains, like those in Plaza Iztacciuatl or Glorieta Popocatepetl. In recent years, The Condesa has experienced a revival. Nowadays you can enjoy its open-air terraces, where office workers, artists, students and designers meet for coffe or meal. This is what gives it is bohemian, intellectual feel, rather like that of New York's Soho or the Quartier Latin in Paris.

The Colonia Roma is a neighborhood with nice homes built in the beginning of the twentieth century. Its has an important cultural centers, such as la Casa Lamm and la Casa del Poeta, as well as visually attractive places, such as Plaza Madrid, Fuente de la Cibeles, and Plaza Río de Janeiro, in the vicinity of which there are superb restaurants with a wide range of dishes.

     Above picture : a middle class house in La Condesa

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