Monday, December 26, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
The National Numismatic Museum
The streets behind the Cathedral are crowded with vendors selling fake designer bags and pirate DVDs, plastic junk from China, and tacos de cabeza; the backdrop to this carnival-like jumble is faded splendor. The colonial architecture here is almost fully intact—if this were a European city it would be the most expensive and desirable part of town. But with its slightly seedy street life tourists often overlook it.
The Casa de Mondea, Mexico’s National coin museum, is in the center of all this urban chaos, and it is easy to overlook—there’s no sign, and you have to make an appointment to visit. But anyone interested in money, and how it was made, will find the place fascinating.
Mexico’s mint was the first in the New World, established by a Royal Decree issued in Spain on May 11, 1535 by Juana de Castilla (also known as Juana la Loca).
The mint lasted more than two and a half centuries beside the National Palace at number 13 Calle Moneda (now the National Museum of Cultures). In 1848 the mint moved to Apartado 13 behind the Cathedral.
Mexico minted its coins here from 1850 until 1992, when the production moved to a new modern plant in San Luis Potosí. The old building became the National Numismatic Museum.
National Numismatic Museum
No. 13, Apartado street (off Calle Argentina behind the Cathedral)
México City’s Historical Center
Delegación Cuauhtémoc. C.P. 06020
5526 6981 ext. 4522 y 4531
Free visits are held from Monday to Friday at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm
The requests must be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, October 31, 2011
View of the vally of Malinalco
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Anyone who has poked around bookstores in Mexico City, the magazine section at Sanborn's, or the gift shop at almost any museum in the country, has probably encountered the publication Artes de Mexico.
Monday, October 3, 2011
CREATING A PIED-Á-TERRE IN MEXICO CITY
Colonia Roma (see my last post) has become one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Mexico City, and it's attracting increasing numbers of foreigners. I wrote a previous post about an American/French couple who retired there.
When my friend Brad (an American who lives in Mexico and New Orleans) first told me about his new apartment in Roma, I thought he was joking.
“It’s on top of an fabulous art-deco building. You walk down a narrow alleyway, past the old incinerator, up a rattling metal staircase, then zigzag through lots of laundry cages to get there. It’s got five rooms and a tiny balcony that overlooks a synagogue. Oh--and it all measures 32 square meters.”
Five rooms? Thirty-two square meters (about 350 square feet)? It sounded like a dollhouse to me. I was skeptical.
Brad found his apartment by walking around the neighborhood and writing down the phone numbers of any ‘for sale’ signs he saw.
“I covered every street in Roma. I looked for about 10 days to find this apartment. It’s the only building in the neighborhood designed by Francisco Serrano, the architect of many art-deco gems in La Condesa. Unfortunately, the building is in a sorry state. Nobody pays maintenance, so nothing gets repaired. But I’m up on the roof in my own little world. It was pretty awful when I found it,” he confessed. “But the place had good bones and the price was right.”
As a foreigner, he needed a permit, which cost about 600 dollars, to buy the property, . “In general, the buying process went quite smoothly. I had to find three Mexican citizens to vouch for my character. That was a little odd but it all worked out, and now I have the escritura (deed) in my name.”
Three months later he invited me over for champagne to celebrate the completion of his renovation. After climbing and zigzagging to his rooftop hideaway, I was amazed to see what a combination of daring and imagination had achieved. This doll’s house is a real home.
The apartment has a funky, retro look, while maintaining the integrity of the original architecture. The boldest move was to paint the living room, dining room and bedroom all one color. Even the ceilings are a vivid pink (Comex bugambilia).
The tiny bathroom is completely covered in half-inch glass tiles—six different colors in a random pattern that creates a lively feel. The tiles undulate over pipes and bumps in the wall, giving it an organic, slightly humorous look.
A small balcony faces the street, and there's an outdoor dining area in the jaula, a fenced-in area that was used to house the gas tanks and to hang laundry. "Having a bit of outdoor space makes a huge difference," said Brad. "Otherwise the place might feel claustrophobic."
The furniture is an eclectic mix gathered from flea markets and antique stores. “Some things were really inexpensive, like the sky-blue floor tiles in the kitchen--they practically gave them to me. What I spent the most money on, by far, is the portrait over the sofa of an Indian girl by Alfonso X. Peña, a contemporary of Diego Rivera who hasn’t yet gotten the recognition he deserves.”
“I’m not sure I’d have the nerve to do this kind of thing anywhere else but in Mexico. There’s something about the light, about the culture in general, that makes strong colors feel natural. It’s one of the things that keeps me coming back. And I love living in Colonia Roma--it's constantly changing and getting better all the time.”