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South of Mexico City
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
 
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UNAM

Towards south of San Angel, Insurgentes Sur crosses the University City Campus of the huge Universitad National Autonoma Mexicana (UNAM) – it is the last inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List (June 29, 2007). Click here for more details.
Built in the late fifties on the lava fields of El Pedregal de San Angel, this University is the oldest high education institution in America. The campus is a true city that hosts more than 300 000 students and teachers, spread out on 400 ha.
Its modern buildings, adorned with wonderful frescos, were among the first tourist attractions of the capital city, but since the eighties, it became just an extra visit when everything else had been seen.
On the outside walls of different buildings, the murals of Rivera and Siqueiros and the mosaics of Juan O'Gorman symbolize the pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern periods of Mexican as well as a view of future. The mosaics are made from multicolored stones coming from different regions of Mexico, except the blue ones, which are blown glass. Thinking about the cultural heritage, the artist mixed the Aztecs and Toltecs symbols with the contributions of the Spanish civilization. Nevertheless, the interest is reduced by the graffiti and the crowds around.
The Rector Tower has a facade adorned with a fresco of the painter David Siqueiros, symbolizing the role given to education. At the very end of the campus, the medical school is adorned with another monumental painting representing a mask with three faces: the Spanish father, the Indian Mother and the Mexican son. The decoration of the scientist building, due to the painter José Chalvez Morado, celebrates the harmony of human life. The University houses also a nice greenhouse where grows various specimens of flowers, plants and tropical trees.

The cultural center laid out at the south of the campus comprises theaters, movie theaters, cafés and a library.

In front of the University City, there is the Olympic stadium where the 1968 Olympic games were held. The painter Diego Rivera described on the stone mosaic the place of the sport in the history of the nation.

Less than two km south on Insurgentes Sur at number 156, there is the archaeological zone of Cuicuilco (from 500BC to 200AD), with its strange circular stepped pyramid, probably built around 500BC. It is one of the oldest urban zones in pre-Hispanic Mexico. Many religious and residential edifices are conserved as well as a hydraulic system. The archeological site and its small museum (open daily 9AM-5PM) can be visited. The city of Cuicuilco was destroyed by a volcano that buried it under nine to twelve meters of lava. The inhabitants of Cuicuilco had to run away to survive and they might be the ones who founded Teotihuacán. The pyramid 18 m high and 135 m in diameter had to be excavated with dynamite and endured numerous deteriorations during this operation. The circular shape of the pyramid is extremely rare on this continent.

Close by, on the east side, the Azteca stadium is one of the biggest in the world. It has been laid at the place of one of the oldest ceremonies center in Mexico.

Going north towards the bus station « Terminal del Sur », metro Taxquena, Calle del Museo 150, the Museo Anahuacalli - Open tue-sun, 10AM-6PM, guided visits 10:30AM/11:30AM/12:30PM/01:30PM/03:15PM/04:15PM/05:00*PM, $20 but free with the ticket of Museum Frida Kahlo of Coyoacán, made with volcanic stones, hosts the collection of sculptures and pre-Hispanic objects of Diego Rivera. The edifice has a shape of an Aztec pyramid.

* except friday


Xochimilco

On the Unesco World Heritage List with Historic Center of Mexico City. Click for the link with the site of Unesco.

A tourist information booth, open to the public from 9AM to 6PM daily, is located close to the church on the street Piño : 5653 5209 - turismo_xochimilco@yahoo.com or www.xochimilco.df.gob.mx.

trajineras The floating gardens of Xochimilco (in náhuatl « place of the flowers ») are a place to go especially on Sunday morning. These gardens are located 24 km from the center of the city, on the southeastern side. Canals, lined by beautiful poplars, are traveled in all directions and a flotilla of gondolas (trajineras), adorned with paper flowers, wait to offer a ride to the tourist. On the banks, you can see the chinampas, floating vegetable gardens secured to the silt by the roots of poplars, which reflect in the still water.
It is a very popular tourist place with many people offering “the” best deal. It can be pleasant and refreshing when it is hot.

     Opposite picture : trajineras

Ex : Toldo Azul 14 passengers $140.00 per hour and per trajinera
Toldo Verde 18 passengers $160.00 per hour and per trajinera

Ask for the tour Laguna del Toro in the embarcadero Bellen, a little bit less touristy (allow 2 or 3 hours on the water).
Going west, the boats cross the Natural Park Xochimilco «Cuemanco» , an ecological reserve created in 1993. You could also walk in the botanic gardens of the reserve.

To reinforce the local color, the vendors of tacos or serapes rush in their boats in the wake of the cargo of tourists, while mariachis or marimbas floating bands are taking care to the music.
These floating gardens are not floating as they were at the time of the Aztecs. The valley of Mexico City was then almost all occupied by the Texcoco Lake.
The vegetables, fruits and flowers were transported from far away and some got the idea to put them on the water covered with good soil. Everything grew wonderfully. Nowadays, the surface of the lake is really reduced and floats have been replaced by islands. But the name remained and the place is very popular for citizen of Mexico City.



There is a popular daily market on a street leading to the main place, where Indians sell their craft. You can find everything : food (including alive poultry), clothes, and craft.

trajineras
You can also visit the Museo Dolores Olmedo (open 10AM-6PM Tue-Sun, MXN$65, free on tuesdays, $10 for national) with more than 600 pre-Hispanic objects, a nice collection of popular Mexican arts and drawings and paintings of the couple Rivera and Kahlo.
It is an old and very nice hacienda from the sixteenth century where F. Kahlo has lived. It is located at av. Mexico # 5843, www.museodoloresolmedo.org.mx.

A friendly café for lunch or coffee in a pleasant and quiet environment : the "Cafe sin nombre”, which is also an art gallery, calle Nuevo León, #37. The shop is decorated in good taste and you are served a delicious coffee in a friendly way.

Left picture : trajineras


Be careful : The last station is really Xochimilco and not embarcadero like it is indicated on the subway map. When leaving the tren ligero, take a pesero towards «embarcadero». To come back, take a pesero towards Santiago/Xochimilco from the street Nuevo León, close to the market, in front of a shoe store.

You could also visit the Museum of Soumaya (open 10:30AM-6:30PM, 7 days a week, free entrance), located south-west of the Capital in the commercial center of Plaza Loreto on Rio Magdalena avenue and Revolución Avenue in Tizapán. Through the different rooms, you will be able to enjoy the permanent collections of Pre-Hispanic art from the colonial time. It is the Latin American museum with the most works of Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel, as well as an exceptional collection of paintings of Rufino Tamayo, Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh. The museum also has game rooms where the children can play and discover what they really learn from the displays. www.museosoumaya.org


You can also buy a MXN$410 "package" called Xochimilco for the Museo Dolores Olmedo, the canals and the parish San Bernardino de Siena : informacion@mexicocityexplorer.com.mx or 859 64565 or 66 / 01800 5055 807.


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