Photo Walk Nº19 – Off the beaten path in the Centro Histórico
Our Photo Walk Nº19 took us to some fairly unknown places in the Centro Histórico, to the south of the Zócalo, some of them quite surprising.
We met at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, and took a few photos in the Casa de los Azulejos looking down at the restaurant inside before making our way down Calle Madero, lined with shops and old historical mansions, such as the Palacio de Iturbide, now the Banamex Cultural Centre.
Next we walked down Calle Isabel la Catolica, passing the Casino Español and the Downtown Hotel as well as a small eating place where a man preparing tacos al pastor wanted his photo taken with some of us. Along Calle Republica de El Salvador, we first visited the Biblioteca Lerdo de Tejada, housed in what was once a private chapel with a Baroque façade. Most people have no idea that this is in fact a very unusual public library. Covering the walls inside are stunning murals by Vlady and we spent quite a while taking shots of the very colorful paintings. Next door is the Museo de la Cancillería with works of art by many famous artists.
Further along, we passed by the famous Farmacia de Paris, over 70 years old covering a massive two blocks, while outside on the pavements, vendors were selling root ginger and herbs to cure all kinds of ailments. Perhaps the most unexpected site we saw today was the Hospital de Jesús, founded in 1524 by Hernán Cortés, the Spanish Conquistador. It was the first medical center in the Americas and has been functioning as a hospital ever since. Nowadays, its colonial inner patios, a haven of peace, are hidden by a modern façade which is why it is almost totally unknown to tourists and locals alike. We wandered around its beautiful courtyards taking photos of the old and the new parts of the hospital and admired the long mural depicting Medicine in Mexico and a mural showing Hernán Cortés meeting Moctezuma. In fact, it was at this spot that the meeting supposedly took place.
Across the road on the corner is the Museo de la Ciudad de México with its strange stone snake’s head emerging from the foot of the wall, taken from the Templo Mayor. Our last visit was to the Suprema Corte de Justicia near the Zócalo to see the hyper-realistic mural by Rafael Cauduro, called “Siete Crímenes Mayores”, which he painted in one of the stairwells. Unfortunately cameras aren´t allowed in there but it is certainly a sight which is not easy to forget.