This Mexico

A guide to the authentic Mexico

Experiencing Aztec and Mayan History at the Museo Nacional de Antropología

No trip to Mexico City is complete without a visit to the anthropology museum – the Museo Nacional de Antropología. Considered one of the greatest museums on the planet, the massive structure houses an extensive collection of pre-Columbian Aztec and Mayan artefacts. It is located in the north end of beautiful Chapultepec Park.

Anthropology museum in Mexico City

Anthropology museum in Mexico City

We decided to visit the museum early on in our vacation, in order to get a better understanding of the pre-Columbian history of Mexico, before we started visiting the other major sites around Mexico City (specifically Teotihuacan and Tenochtitlan). We were rewarded with an overwhelming amount of information, provided through gorgeous displays of precious artefacts, full-scale reconstructions of parts of important buildings, and a seemingly endless parade of gigantic statues, some dating back well over 2,000 years. Of particular note were the statue of Coatlicue and the Stone of the Fifth Sun (commonly called the Aztec Calendar Stone, but this is a misnomer as the stone is no longer believed to have filled any astrological or astronomical function), located in the Sala Méxica, directly opposite the main entrance.

Originally, we had intended on visiting the museum in the morning, then exploring Chapultepec Park in the afternoon. We sorely underestimated the amount of time we would need to fully appreciate the wealth of history available at the museum! We ended up spending most of the day there, taking breaks when necessary to rest our tired feet. There is a sit-down restaurant located in a beautiful courtyard in the basement of the museum, but Matthew and I opted to eat at one of the countless food vendors that line the main path through the park. We finally got up the courage to try elotes, an extremely popular street food in Mexico City consisting of steamed corn on the cob slathered in spicy mayonnaise, dipped in a crumbled, powdery cheese, and sprinkled liberally with chile powder–oh and a few squeezes of fresh lime juice. Sadly no picture–it is possibly the messiest thing I have ever tried to eat. Both Matt and I were covered in red-tinged corn-on-the-cob goodness. There are not enough napkins on the planet for this food.

As for most of our transportation in and around Mexico City, we took the metro, getting off at Chapultepec Station on the No. 1 line (the pink line). Plan on spending an entire day at the museum–it really is worth it! Then plan on spending another day in the enormous Chapultepec Park, which is also worth it. We didn’t make it back to the park during this visit, but we will definitely explore Chapultepec in more detail on our next visit to Mexico City!

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