Mexico's Best Art, Architecture and Museums
By David Baird and Shane Christensen
Mexico's cultural heritage is as rich as it is varied. Here are our picks for the best "eye candy" south of the border.
Museo Nacional de Antropología
The Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City contains riches representing 3,000 years of the country’s history. Also on view are exquisite artifacts of still-thriving indigenous cultures. The award-winning building, designed by architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, is also stunning.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
The country’s premier venue for the performing arts, this fabulous building is the combined work of several masters. The exterior is early-20th-century Art Nouveau covered in marble; the interior is 1930s Art Deco. It's located in Mexico City.
The Templo Mayor’s Aztec Splendor
The Templo Mayor and Museo del Templo Mayor constitute an archaeological excavation and museum with 6,000 objects on display. They showcase the splendor and variety of the Aztec Empire as it existed in the historic center of what is today Mexico City.
This towering cathedral, begun in 1567 and finished in 1788, blends neoclassical, baroque and churrigueresque architecture and was constructed primarily from the stones of destroyed Aztec temples.
Santa Prisca y San Sebastián Church
Completed in 1758, this baroque church in Taxco has an intricately carved facade, an interior decorated with gold-leafed saints and angels, and paintings by Miguel Cabrera, one of Mexico’s most famous Colonial-Era artists.
Inspired by European Gothic, but lighter and more cheerful, this whimsical San Miguel de Allende church is like a fiesta captured in stone—especially at night, when it’s illuminated.
Murals of José Clemente Orozco
Of the great Mexican muralists of the revolutionary period, José Clemente Orozco is perhaps the most technicly proficient and the most expressive of his generation’s concerns. To see his image of Hidalgo bearing down on you from the ceiling of the grand staircase of Guadalajara's Palacio de Gobierno is to understand what he and his compañeros were striving to accomplish.
Museo Pantaleón Panduro
The Mexican people have always placed a high value on pottery as a field of artistic achievement. It’s a cultural continuity that spans from pre-Columbian times to the present. Museo Pantaleón Panduro in Tlaquepaque is perhaps the greatest expression of this love for pottery. Its collection holds prized pieces from the yearly national ceramics competition.
Museo Virreinal de Guadalupe
Six kilometers (3 and 3/4 miles) southeast of Zacatecas in the little town of Guadalupe, this Franciscan convent and museum holds a striking collection of 17th- and 18th-century paintings by such masters as Miguel Cabrera and Cristóbal de Villalpando. The expressive, dramatic works are catnip for art lovers.
Museo Antropología de Xalapa
Along with the finest examples of Totonac and Olmec ceramics and sculptures, this museum includes the best collection of the Olmec megalithic heads.
Balanced proportions, sober lines, a deft blending of architectural styles, and monumental height—Morelia’s cathedral is the most beautiful in Mexico. It’s constructed of brownish-pink stone that turns fiery rose in the late-afternoon sun.
Capilla del Rosario
This chapel, set in Puebla’s church of Santo Domingo, is a tour de force of baroque expression, executed in molded plaster, Talavera tile, carved wood and gold leaf. The overall effect overpowers the senses.