Photo Walk Nº16 – Off the beaten path… Santa Maria La Ribera
For our 16th Photo Walk, we explored a neighborhood off the main tourist trails… Santa Maria La Ribera. Once a relatively posh area created at the end of the 19th Century for the wealthy people who went to live “outside” the city, it has now become somewhat decadent but still retains its feeling of a traditional Mexican neighborhood.
We met at one of the most surprising and unusual landmarks in this area, the Kiosco Morisco, a colorful structure of wrought iron, painted blue and red, with Moorish features. It stands in the middle of the park or Alameda and is the symbol of this “barrio”. We spent some time photographing the kiosco and its intricate details before moving on to the Geology Museum on the other side of the square, an elegant old building with mosaic floors, a grand staircase and, among other things, the skeleton of a mammoth which can be seen from the entrance.
Next we made our way down Calle Santa Maria La Ribera, stopping to photograph and talk to people at a couple of small local eating places and a tortillería. A little further on is the Templo de la Sagrada Familia with its green Byzantine-style domes, an unexpected sight here.
We then visited another unusual building in the area, the Museo El Chopo, also known as the Palacio de Cristal or Crystal Palace, a giant steel and glass structure made in Germany in 1902 for an art and textile fair and then bought up and shipped over to Mexico and re-assembled in this spot between 1903 and 1905. For many years it housed the Natural History Museum, but now has exhibitions of contemporary and experimental art. Crossing Insurgentes, we arrived at the Estación Buenavista where the busy railway terminal used to be located. The original building has now totally disappeared and in its place is a modern commuter train terminal and Metrobus stop. Outside stands one of the original steam trains from 1887.
Next to the Buenavista terminal is the mega-library, “Biblioteca Vasconcelos”, a massive cement, glass and steel structure spread out over 38,000 square meters and home to almost half a million books which line the steel bookshelves suspended inside the vast building.
Since this was our last Photo Walk until after the summer holidays, we decided to celebrate by having lunch at a typical Mexican restaurant called La Casa de Toño, tucking into quesadillas, flautas, pozole and hot spicy sauces, the perfect way to end our series of photo walks around Mexico City for the time being.