Mexico        Rêve Mexicain en français
North of Mexico City
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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Plaza de las Tres Culturas

On the road to the Basilica de la Guadalupe, you could stop at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas (between avenue Flores Magon and Manuel Gonzales). It is both an old and new place. The plaza has been laid out in the seventies as part of the general plan of urban renovation. But the site, from an historic point of view, is one of the most venerable of the city. At the time of the Aztecs, it was the center of Tlatelolco, where lived, at the origin, a community different from the one of Tenochtitlán (Aztec name of Mexico City).

This riparian city, an isolated small state, was annexed by Axayacatl, father of Moctezuma II, in 1473 and when the Spaniards arrived it was a trade center. You could see, nowadays, the vestiges of a pyramid. It is there where the Aztecs were defeated for the last time. And it where was achieved in 1609 the Church of Santiago Tlatelolco, one of the first Christian sanctuary of New Spain. They used stones from the demolished Aztec constructions. The Aztec and colonial cultures are mixed on this place. At the right of the church, the old Franciscan monastery was the first college for young noble Indians where they were taught history, philosophy and Latin.

Left picture : Tlatelolco

In brief, this place embodies 3 important stages of Mexican History : The pre-Hispanic, colonial and contemporary periods with, side by side, the Aztec pyramids of Tlatelolco, the convent and church of Santiago from the seventeenth century and the modern building of the Foreign Ministry. The visit of the archaeological zone is free (open daily 8AM-6PM).

Everyone remembers the troubles on the Plaza of the three cultures in 1968, on the eve of the Olympic Games. The students of Mexico City were protesting and the troops were by the side to maintain order when gun shots blew up. The officer in charge of the operations felt first. During the following hours, there were dozens of injured and killed. Mexicans would like to forget such an incident.

To go there, take the metro until the station "Tlatelolco", exit on the place with the same name, cross a playground and follow the "Portico Rodrigo Caso" to walk under the avenue Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas.

For more information, log on to the site : www.conaculta.gob.mx

October 12 : Dia de la Raza ; this day commemorates the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus from the Mexican point of view. This annual holiday shows the obsession of the Mexicans for their double origin, Indian and European. There is a very big celebration on this place.

The Basilica de Guadalupe

The first chock for the new comer is the ardor of the pilgrims of the Basilica de Guadalupe (open daily 7AM-9PM). Chapel of Tepeyac, colonial basilica, contemporary basilica : the site of the Guadalupe is a pilling up of religious monuments combining the actual gigantism of cultural art with the most delicious edifice of Hispano-Mexicana baroque.
the Guadalupe (old basilica)

The Basilica Guadalupe is, without doubt, the most important sanctuary in contemporary Mexico. It is the second most visited basilica after the Vatican.

The devotion to the « black virgin of Guadalupe » is so big that Mexicans themselves say they are « Guadalupanos » before being catholic. This devotion shows with the long walks on knees to the entrance of the basilica praying or reading the bible. It could take 2 hours. The atmosphere is unique, full of ardor and prayers. Once inside the cathedral, people are in line to kneel in front of the picture of the virgin de Guadalupe.

Left picture : the Guadalupe (old basilica)

The legend says that, in 1531, an Indian, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, saw the Virgin at the top of the hill. To convince the skeptical bishop, the Virgin came back and printed her image on Juan’s cloak. The cloak is now piously kept in a sanctuary. Reproductions with her effigy are omnipresent in homes, stores, offices, autobus, trucks, taxis and peseros (minibuses). Our lady of Guadalupe is venerated not only like the Virgin but also like the good angel of Mexicans and Indians.
During his fifth visit to Mexico, in July 2002, Pope John Paul the second canonized Juan Diego, which became the first Indian Saint in the Christian calendar. On December 12, anniversary of the day of the second apparition of the Virgin, thousands of pilgrims met at the basilica in an atmosphere of feast. On the square of the church, diverse fraternal societies perform dances, among them the famous dance of the Concheros.

     Right picture : pilgrims in front of the Guadalupe

pilgrims in front of the GuadalupeBut the Guadalupe, on Sunday morning, it is also for the stranger, a big emotion : From everywhere in the country, in the continent, all the social classes rush on the moving walkway that passes in front of the Patron Saint of Indian America, Christianized because of her appearance to the most humble farmer. You could meet men and women from the other part of the country, crossing the vast place on their knees to the basilica. You could see corteges of people carrying on their shoulders stacks of flowers and fruits set in triumphal arches. With the banners, songs and hymns, the devotion for Guadalupe has an air of permanent crusade where are mixed the primitive Indian cults and a Christianity from the nineteenth century.

It is on behalf of the Guadalupe that the guerillas of the "Division del Norte" of Pancho Villa assaulted the troops of the oligarchy of Porfirio during the revolution of 1910 : the silhouette of the Virgin was on the armored wagons of the revolution; It is shouting the name of Guadalupe that the revolutionary peons of Zapata died while demanding the land reform. The cult of the Guadalupe is still very active in Central America. Even in the smallest village, candles and light bulbs are glowing on every altar celebrating the mother of every Mexican. It is strange in this lay country which proclaims the separation of Church and State (metro: Basilica).


The Museo de la Basilica de Guadalupe (open 10AM-5:30PM Tue-Sun, $3) is located in an annex of the old basilica. You can admire religious paintings and offerings and ex-voto religion left by the believers over the centuries.

Close by the basilica, is the baroque chapel of the Pocito (chapel of the little well) built in the eighteenth century (open 6AM-8PM) at the exact place where a miraculous source appeared. (It is dry right now). The water of this source was supposed having miraculous powers. The chapel has a dome covered with blue and white tiles (azulejos). The walls are in cut stones, volcanic rocks. Inside, there are little scenes with angels in pastel colors. view of the garden behind the Chapel of the little well

At the top of the Tepeyac Hill, the chapel of the Roses is built where Juan Diego had his first vision.
You have a panoramic view of the city from the Capilla del Cerrito (Hill Chapel). The Tepeyac gardens are very pleasant and offer a nice general view. There are bronze Indians bringing gifts to the Virgin and San Diego. Many Mexicans enjoy this garden.

Log on to the site : www.virgendeguadalupe.org.mx

Left picture : view of the garden behind the Chapel of the little well

capilla del cerrito

Take the metro to the station "La Villa". From here, you’ll see the basilica and will reach it crossing a market with religious objects set on both sides of the street.

     Right picture : capilla del cerrito

The Avenida Insurgentes

The Avenida Insurgentes (29 km), even less refined than the Paseo de la Reforma, is a magnificent arterial street that crosses the city from north to south. It is the second arterial street that goes through the heart of the city. Towards north, the avenue leads to the basilica of Guadalupe and, towards south, it leads to the arenas, the Plaza Mexico (the biggest bullring), the colonial villages San Angel and Coyoacán, the University City and the Olympic stadium.
When its name becomes Avenida Insurgentes Sur, it crosses the most pleasant part if the city. It is lined by tall buildings, among them the huge hotel of Mexico (World Trade Center).

The Polyforum Cultural Siqueiros

The Polyforum Cultural Siqueiros is a kind of temple of arts, which Siqueiros adorned with audacity on every wall and ceiling. The fresco, « the March of Humanity », is a combined sculpture and painting of 2500 m2 in three dimensions, made of metal and acrylic over asbestos cement. It is called polyforum because it surrounds a theater, an art gallery and an exhibit of popular art. It opened in 1971. It is officially a cultural center but it appears like the personal museum of the the artist. There is a sound and light show on weekends.

Teatro de los Insurgentes

Going south, you discover the Teatro de los Insurgentes, with a big mosaic due to Diego Rivera, telling the history of Mexico through the portraits of his great men. You can especially admire the character of Cantinflas, national hero of the popular comedy. Rivera drew him as the Christ in the center of the mural, giving the wealth of the rich to the poor.
old and new basilica de Guadalupe



Left picture : old and new basilica de Guadalupe

market of religious objects on the street leading to the basilica of Guadalupe

   Right picture : market of religious objects on the street leading to     
   the basilica of Guadalupe



 City map :

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