A detour to the centrally located yet way-off-the-tourist-track neighborhood known as Buenavista leads to one of Mexico City’s most dazzling 21st-century landmarks, the Biblioteca Vasconcelos, a gorgeous public library. The structure, by Alberto Kalach and Juan Palomar, has the public entering a pyramid-style form, on an almost subterranean level, that opens up, cathedral-like, into a soaring space lined on either side by cantilevered book stacks that float nobly above it all. Dramatic artworks contribute to the overall temple-of-knowledge feeling that is, in fact, quite moving. More beautiful yet could be just how busy the library is, filled with eager students and bookworm families alongside (no joke) groups of teens always practicing pop-music dance routines in the library’s lateral gardens.
A City of Books
Simply put, Biblioteca de México José Vasconelos (not to confuse with Biblioteca Vasconcelos) is my favorite place in Mexico City. It hosts five beautiful book collections that belonged to famous Mexican writers, and it is a treasure trove of bibliographic rarities. In the more than 216,000 books of the project known as La Ciudad de los Libros, you can find stories illustrated by Frida Kahlo, art work by Oaxacan painter Francisco Toledo and a first edition of Argentine writer Julio Cortázar’s “Hopscotch.” The Biblioteca also has has a patio that functions as a space for multiple free activities, which range from movie screenings to theater plays. It is located in the building known as La Ciudadela, just in front of the Balderas subway station.
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