Photo Walk Nº43 – Cathedral bells and a fair in the Zócalo

A visit to the Cathedral’s bells and the “México en el corazón de México” fair


Since the “México en el corazón de México” Fair was taking place in the Zócalo, we decided to combine it with a visit to the bell towers of the Cathedral on Photo Walk Nº43.

We met at the Cathedral and bought our tickets to go up the bell-towers (20 pesos) on the 10.40 am tour and then went for a short walk to look down over the ruins of the Aztec Templo Mayor nearby and learn a bit about the history of this area. When the Spaniards arrived, they destroyed the Templo Mayor and used the stones to build the Cathedral. Centuries later, archaeologists discovered what was left of the Aztec’s most sacred site and began excavating it.

At 10.40, we followed one of the bellringers up the 68 steps of an 18th-century spiral staircase to the first tower where he explained about the history of the bells, their names and sizes and when they are rung. There are currently 35 bells of different sizes, the largest one being “Santa Maria de Guadalupe”, weighing a hefty 13 tons. All the bell ringing is still done by hand by a group of volunteers who need to be very fit to keep going up to the bell towers all day and pulling on the ropes.

Next the guide led us out onto the rooftop of the Cathedral where we had good, if somewhat hazy, views over the Zócalo and other parts of the Centro Histórico, and over to the other tower. Here we learned about the “Campana Castigada” – a bell which was punished for being involved in the death of a novice bellringer in the 1940s. According to a centuries-old tradition, the bell had to be punished so its clapper was removed never to be rung again and a red cross painted on it. However, it was shown mercy in 2000, the Jubilee Year, and pardoned by the church. The clapper was re-installed and it has been used ever since.

After a brief look around the Cathedral and learning a bit about its history, we then went over to the Zócalo to the Fair where the different states of Mexico were showing some of their cultural and culinary specialities. We visited each of the stands taking photographs, tasting some of the food and, in some cases, buying a few of the products on sale.

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