Photo Aníbal Barco
Palacio de Bellas Artes
The imposing, white-domed wedding cake now known as Palacio de Bellas Artes was originally planned as a national theater, and construction was begun in 1904. The Mexican Revolution, among other things, postponed its completion until 1934, which explains the stark contrast between its creamy art nouveau exterior (note amazing iron- and stonework with local motifs like serpents) and its art-deco-inspired interior, finished in black and red marbles, and with walls that feature dazzling murals by Rivera, Siqueiros, and other postrevolutionary masters. Today the beloved edifice is home to a concert hall, exhibition areas given over to blockbuster shows, and Mexico’s National Architecture Museum; take an auditorium tour—or better yet, see a performance—to lay eyes on the theater’s magnificent Tiffany glass "curtain," a mosaic formed (they say) by more than 1 million separate glass components.
By Michael Parker Stainback, AFAR Local Expert
Ogle the Opulence at Palacio de Bellas Artes
Mexico City's Palacio de Bellas Artes is an oft-photographed landmark, and it's not hard to see why; the building is opulent and eye-catching with its Art Nouveau and Neoclassical influences, the literal crown of which is a stunning iron and glass roof capping the palace's main hall. On the inside, expect still more architectural finery, including loads of Art Deco details, among them, the stylized fonts over the box office. And don't miss the glass curtain on the stage in the theater; made of more than one million pieces of Tiffany glass, it is the only such curtain in the whole world and depicts Mexican motifs. Today, the palace serves as a fine arts museum and performing arts venue.
By Julie Schwietert Collazo, AFAR Local Expert
Art Deco rules Palacio de bellas Artes
The Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico city was an unexpected surprise for me. I really had not done any research or seen any images before I showed up. The outside facade is mostly in the Art Nouveau style, while the interior (which houses incredible murals by Diego Rivera and David Siqueiros) is primarily art deco. I was just as impressed with the mini sculptures of Chaac on the light panels. The attention to detail was incredible. Photography is really not allowed (unless you pay for a press pass), but I snuck one in anyway.
By Ruddy Harootian, AFAR Local Expert
Mexican Folk Dance at its Finest
Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández is Mexico’s oldest, finest, and most celebrated dance company. Dancer and choreographer Hernández founded the company in 1952 to preserve Mexico’s dance traditions, dating all the way back to pre-Columbian civilizations. Today, the troupe, which is based in Mexico City, features a cast of 75 dancers and musicians who continue to perform the colorful, historic dances of Mexico. The ensemble performs three times weekly at the Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes). You can buy tickets online from ticketmaster.mx and then pick them up at the counter on the night of the performance. Palacio de Bellas Artes is a small but beautiful art deco style building. If you go for a performance, arrive early so you can walk around and check out the famous murals, including one by Diego Rivera, in the building’s galleries.
By Julee K., AFAR Local Expert
A Nod to the Native
As with so many cultures, Mexico’s has shifted over time. Before the country was conquered by the Spanish, Aztec culture dominated the area. After all, it is from their word, Mexica ("Me-shee-ka"), that the name "Mexico" is derived from. In 1521, the Aztecs were defeated by Hernán Cortés and for the next 300 years, the country’s national identity, as shaped by state, religion and popular culture, was defined by all that which is Spanish. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, driven mainly by political forces, the country’s indigenous culture was incorporated into the national identity giving rise to a fusion culture known as the mestizo. Today’s Mexico is a rich, multicultural nation and for me, this is what makes Mexican culture unique. The Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández is the country’s premier dance troupe and several of its dances, although stylized performances, celebrate Mexico's native cultures. There is also the Jaguar dance which is a male solo performance that pays tribute to the Aztec warrior culture. They are spectacular to watch! Check the company’s website for the schedule of performances and buy your tickets from ticketmaster.com.mx. In Mexico City, the performances are held in the beautiful Art Deco styled Palacio des Bellas Artes. You can just go there and pick up your ticket on the night of the performance. Both photography and video cameras are allowed!
By Julee K., AFAR Local Expert
Av. Juárez, Centro Histórico, Centro, 06050 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
+52 55 5512 2593
Tue - Sun 10am - 5pm