Top 4 Cities in Mexico for Art, Architecture and Design

Baroque-inspired buildings in Puebla (Credit: Mexico Tourism Board)

Sure, we know about Mexico‘s stellar beaches and sumptuous cuisine, but what about the many vibrant spots to explore beyond sun, surf and sand? We’ve picked the top 4 cities in Mexico for art, architecture and design. 

Need more inspiration? Here’s a flashback from just outside Mexico City from Arlene Stacey, Zoomer’s Managing Editor:

My mind instantly flashed back to my visit to La Casa Azul (the Blue House) in Coyoacán, about 10 kilometres south of Mexico City’s main square – one of the largest in the world – the Zócalo. The cobalt house was Frida Kahlo’s birthplace in 1907, where the diminutive artist grew up and lived with her husband, Diego Rivera, for many years and where she died in 1954. It is the most un-museumlike museum you can imagine. Instead of being filled with the fewer than 200 Frida paintings that have survived, the Blue House is more an homage to the origin of an artist and the life she lived.

Built in 1904 by Frida’s father, a Hungarian Jew born in Germany who married a Spanish Native American from Oaxaca, the house has changed very little. On the bed on which Frida lay for two years recovering from a horrific traffic accident at age 18 is a painted plaster corset she wore to support her back. In the collision, she had been impaled by an iron handrail and had seriously damaged her leg and spine, causing life-long pain. The mirror on the canopy, which her mother hung during her recovery, inspired her to paint to pass the time and was the beginning of her many self-portraits (“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best”).

Throughout the house are the art and artifacts that inspired her and which she and Diego collected during their tumultuous years together: papier-mâché figures, sculptures and canvasses by their contemporaries and friends; pre-Hispanic and pre-Columbian art; her jewelry – including the hand-shaped earrings given to her by Pablo Picasso, with whom she became close after her successful exhibitions in Paris and New York. Her home country was late to appreciate her art: she had only one solo exhibition in Mexico – and that only a year before her death.

Across the lush courtyard is the airy studio that Diego built for Frida in 1946 and the pyramid he erected to hold his own favourite pieces of art.

Frida’s self-portraits, which exalted feminine suffering and incorporated Mexican folk art, have led her to be hailed as a feminist icon and independent thinker years after her death, perhaps even overshadowing the legacy of Diego. Pop icon Madonna began collecting Kahlo art in the late ’80s, purchasing “Self-Portrait with Monkey (1940)” for $1,000,000, and was rumoured to have acquired “Roots (1943)” at auction for $5,616,000, which set a new record for Frida Kahlo’s works.

From Mexico City, with world class contemporary art, design and architecture, to Puebla, a city inspired by its Baroque roots, Mexico offers travellers a cultural adventure. 

Click through below for the top 4 cities for art, architecture and design in Mexico.

www.visitmexico.com

 

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Soumaya Museum in Mexico City (Credit: Mexico Tourism Board)

Mexico City. Home to cutting-edge museums, striking buildings and structures designed by famous Mexican architects by the likes of Barragán, Rojkind and Romero. Explore their architectural masterpieces located in Mexico City including the Soumaya Museum, Cineteca Nacional and the Torres de Satélite.

 

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Spanish Colonial streets in San Miguel de Allende (Credit: Mexico Tourism Board)

San Miguel de Allende: A three-hour drive from Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende is best known for its Spanish Colonial streets and domes, as well as its large community of artists and designers. The city’s craft markets and art galleries such as The Fábrica La Aurora should be on every traveler’s must-visit list. It’s no wonder this city was rated the third best city in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine this year!

 

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Brightly-coloured alibrijes, whimsical painted animal figurines, found in Oaxaca (Credit: Mexico Tourism Board)

Oaxaca: Known as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Oaxaca is a burgeoning cultural melting pot and home to one of the finest examples of civil Oaxacan architecture of the colonial period, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca (MACO). Apart from its mesmerizing architecture, Oaxaca is also known for its vivid textiles and hand-carved wooden figurines known as alibrijes. Travellers can take a piece of Oaxaca home with them by visiting the Oaxaca Textile Museum or villages just outside of Oaxaca City including San Bartolo Coyotepec, which produces some of the finest handicrafts in Mexico.

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Baroque-inspired buildings in Puebla (Credit: Mexico Tourism Board)

Puebla: Its historic center is so rich in architecture that it was declared a World Heritage site due to the unique facades on its buildings, which are embellished by Talavera, a unique style of pottery that originated in the region. The city’s Baroque-inspired buildings and structures are also highlighted at the Museo Internacional del Barroco.