My favourite museum in Mexico City.


Or you can call it Museo Nacional de Antropología, like the Mexicans do. – they speak spanish, remember? – Anyhow, doesn’t matter how you call it, a visit to this museum should be in your top ten to-do-list when you are in Mexico City. Mexico is dotted with archeological sites and tons of impressing pyramids – can you call them pyramids? – and Mayan temples. Some bigger than others, some better preserved, some at the coastline and some in the middle of the jungle. With discovering these remnants of a pre-Columbian past, an immense amount of statues, heads, sculptures and other relics needed a place to be preserved and admired. That’s were the National museum of Anthropology is built for: to contain, exhibit and preserve thousands of relics and pieces dating from the pre-Columbian Mexico.

And the museum is just huge. Enormous. Gigantic. Not so small. You can walk around for hours, which is what I would’ve done if I didn’t arrive pretty late in the afternoon. – I stayed until it closed – Nevertheless, I was impressed. The amount of beautiful stonework, statues, sculptures, snakes, jaguars, birds and others is unimaginable. You can almost smell the jungle when you see these animals. Room after room I was surprised by the craftsmanship and the artwork of the indigenous Mexican tribes. Not only can you find the Stone of the Sun – better known as the Aztec calendar –, which is their pièce de resistance, you can also admire some giant Olmec heads or treasures from Palenque and Chichen Itza. Sadly, the headdress of Moctezuma II – Aztec emperor killed during the Spanish conquest of Mexico – is only a replica. The original one is to be admired in Vienna, Austria only wants to trade the headdress in exchange for the carriage of Maximilian. – archduke of Austria and last Emperor of Mexico, I need to give you at least a little bit of a background…though the history is extremely complicated. Did you even know a Habsburg ruled Mexico? Me neither. – Still, the replica contributes to the pre-Columbian atmosphere which is present all over the museum. As a European girl who loves history, culture and art, this place was heaven on earth. Wondering about who made all the artwork. How they wore their jewellery. What the Mayans looked like. What the calendar means. How they lived. Why they sacrificed people – oh yeah, there’s a stone with the blood still on it. Just for your information – and how they played their ball game. How it must’ve felt to know you might die in order to honor your gods. Many questions, many answers, more questions, history and stories intertwined in my head. I loved every single second of it.

Do you love other cultures, history of indigenous tribes long gone and beautiful artwork? Do you like to see sculptures of snakes, jaguars, monkeys and other jungle animals? Do you love to imagine how it is to live in the past, in a certain time and certain place? Do you wish you had a time machine so you could see it yourself instead of dreaming away in your head? Definitely visit the National museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. You’ll be impressed. Maybe you’ll even visit it twice.

Waterfall in the museum.
Courtyard with pond and fish.
Mayan comics
Fake Moctezuma II headdress.
Mighty snake.
Stone to sacrifice people on.
Monsters in original colours.
Garden of the museum.


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Anke Roosendans

illustrator / travel addict / architecture lover / crazy about mid-century modern design

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