Bosque de Chapultepec: Visiting Chapultepec Park

30 Nov

While we were in Mexico City, we stayed at a hotel that was located on Reforma, just a short half mile walk from the wonderous Bosque de Chapultepec.  We visited three important sites within the park, besides passing by many others and seeing all the activities enjoyed by park visitors.

rOur three main stops were: National Museum of Anthropology/Museo Nacional de Antropologia; The Chapultepec Castle: and Jardin Botanico del Bosque de Chapultepec/the botanical gardens.  We passed by the Ghandi Garden, the entrances to other sites like the Zoo and the History Museum; and walked through an open air market, where I purchased a straw hat.  We also ate in one of the restaurants within the park, El Lago Restaurante.

Honestly, we did not do these activities in one day.  The park is enormous with so much to see.  But I thought it is best to put it all together in one blog.

The first place anyone who goes to Mexico City must visit is the National Museum of Anthropology.  Besides its wonderful architecture, the museum galleries are filled with pre-Columbian masterpieces.  We had a tour guide who explained what we were seeing in English, which was extraordinarily helpful as almost all the signage is only in Spanish.

The building itself is built around a central courtyard with a large umbrella like structure providing shade. As you walk through the different galleries, you return to the center courtyard between areas.  I found that refreshing.  A way of clearing my mind before entering another new world.

We learned about the Inca, Mayan, Aztec, Olmec  and other peoples who once lived in the various areas of Mexico.  I knew that human sacrifice was a large part of the religions.  Owever, I was shocked at the brutal and almost daily sacrifices.  The artwork of these groups, especially the Aztec, focused on skulls, dismemberment and death.  We learned about the Goddess of Rain and the God of the Sun and the feathered snakes that adorned many of the buildings.  The immense stone carvings were beautiful and many were so intricate, you wonder how they were made centuries ago without modern tools.

The original Aztec Sunstone is on display, as well as many other majestic and large works of art.  The Statute of Chaichiuhiticue,  and the Olmec stone heads were immense.  Each were carved from one block of stone.  I don’t know how they moved them!

I honestly cannot tell you what was the most interesting thing to see because there were so many!  I did like learning about the game they played with balls that had to go through a stone hoop. However, I was sad to learn that after each game, someone was sacrificed. 

We spent three hours visiting all the rooms of this museum.  I took many photos.  But in the last room, I was exhausted.  I knew I had had enough because I did not take one photo.  I was mentally done.  There is just so much to see.  It is a museum you could visit again and again and still see and learn about things you missed on an earlier visit.

Needless to say, we left the museum exhausted and ready to eat lunch.  We knew we would be back to the park!

We returned the following evening for a dinner at El Lago Restaurant.  It is situated by one of the lakes in the park and is just lovely.  The food is delicious as well.  But the main reason I am mentioning it, is that while we ate, a young man asked his girlfriend to marry him!  It was quite exciting and everyone cheered when she said yes!  It added an extra bit of charm to an already charming trip.

With the park so close to our hotel, we knew that we would be walking back another day.  We chose the morning after we took our Covid tests to make sure we could return to the USA.  Even though we knew we did not feel sick in any way, having to wait several hours for the results would have made me anxious if I just sat around.  We started walking to the park.  Our first planned stop was the botanical gardens.  This one was filled mainly with succulents and orchids, two of my favorite plantsWe walked around the gardens enjoying the quiet.  We ended with walk through the orchid house and enjoying the many succulents planted in cement cinder blocks!  I want to do that in my garden.

Chapultepec Park is considered the lungs of Mexico City.  The acres upon acres of trees supplies the valley with clean air, which is important, because there is pollution in the valley that encompasses Mexico City.

After we left the gardens we continued walking through the park towwards the hill where the Capultepec Castle sits. The first building of the castle began in 1795 as a summer home for the viceroy.  Eventually it was enlarged and became the home of Emperor Maximillian and his family.  Maximilian did not survive for long in Mexico.  He became Emperor in 1864 and was executed in 1867. The unfortunate thing is that Maximillian seemed to care about the people of Mexico.  But it did not save him from execution.  

The Castle then became the home of the President of Mexico and continued as the Presidential residence until 1939.  Now it is a museum. It does cost 85 pesos to enter.  I did not have that much cash, and they do not take credit cards.  However, if you are over 60, which my husband and I definitely are, you can enter for free!  The cashier said,  “Are you over 60?”  I said yes.  She said go in for you it is free.  Thank you Mexico!!  It would have been so sad not to have seen this building and its gardens!

You do have to walk up the hill.  But the slope is easy to climb.  However, I will say with the altitude of 7500 feet in Mexico City, I am glad I waited for the third day to make that climb!  We walked slowly.  You can take a bottle of water to go up the hill.  But once you get to the entrance of the Castle grounds, you cannot bring it in with you.

To describe the building, all you need to do is think about Vienna and St. Petersburg.  Maximillian was a member of the Habsburg family.  So, of course, his home reflected the elegance and grandeur that a member of that family needed/demanded.  It was a bit offsetting to see the grand carved furniture of Europe throughout the areas of the home.  But it was beautiful.  A major difference from a European home, is that each of the rooms could be entered from the interior of the house, but they also had large doors that opened to the outside.  To see the mansion, we walked along the perimeter of the home and looked into the rooms through opened doors.

The view of the park and the city from the top of the mountain is wonderful.  Even better was going all the way to the top and visiting the gardens on the roof and seeing the view from there.

Another added bonus to our visit to the park was finding a parade was in progress on Reforma!  It was Revolution Day in Mexico.  We spent almost an hour watching the music, the floats, the marchers in colorful outfits denoting their province of Mexico, before we discovered the underground walkway that enabled us to return to our hotel.

Visiting Chapultepec Park is a must.  We only saw a few of the many interesting museums and sites to see there.  Honestly, you could spend a week just visiting Chapultepec Park!

https://www.wmf.org/project/chapultepec-park

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapultepec

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapultepec_Castle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Museum_of_Anthropology_(Mexico)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_I_of_Mexico

2 Responses to “Bosque de Chapultepec: Visiting Chapultepec Park”

  1. Amy November 30, 2021 at 9:25 am #

    Sounds like an amazing trip—to a place I never have considered visiting. I guess I should add it to my list!

    • zicharon November 30, 2021 at 9:43 am #

      It is well worth it. I will say the valley with Mexico City definitely has pollution issue. So I wore my mask even outside and used my inhalers. But outside the city by the pyramids no air issues.

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