CASTILLO DE CHAPULTEPEC

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Castillo de Chapultepec

Castillo de Chapultepec

El Castillo de Chapultepec es una construcción palaciega ubicada en lo alto del cerro del mismo nombre, en el centro del Bosque de Chapultepec, situado en la Ciudad de México, a una elevación de 2.325 metros sobre el nivel del mar. Fue construido por el virrey Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid sobre el cerro del Chapulín (Chapultepec es palabra de origen náhuatl «Chapulli, saltamontes, y tepe(tl), cerro, Chapultepetl», que significa “cerro del saltamontes” o “cerro del chapulín”).

Es el único Castillo Real en América, fue construido en la época del Virreinato como casa de verano para el virrey, se le dio diversos usos, desde almacén de pólvora hasta academia militar en 1841, también fue la residencia oficial del emperador Maximiliano I de México.

Ha sufrido ampliaciones, remodelaciones. Cuenta con diversos patios, escalinatas, jardines, vestíbulos, salas y amplios espacios característicos de los inmuebles del siglo XIX y principios del XX.

El castillo cuenta con un bulevar que conectaba directamente la residencia imperial con el centro de la ciudad, actualmente conocido como Paseo de la Reforma. Posteriormente el edificio se vio nuevamente en desuso, tras 10 años pasó a ser el primer observatorio astronómico de México por sólo 5 años, y después volvió a ser un Colegio Militar, para luego pasar a ser la residencia presidencial.

Desde el 27 de septiembre de 1944 es la sede del Museo Nacional de Historia “Castillo de Chapultepec” (del Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes y del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia). Su director, desde 2014, es el historiador Salvador Rueda Smithers.

Periodo Virreinal

Cuando Bambalina salió para La Habana, el capitán Manuel Agustín Mascaró se hizo cargo de la dirección del proyecto y durante su mandato las obras se realizaron a un ritmo acelerado. Sin embargo, Bernardo de Gálvez fue acusado de construir una fortaleza con la intención de rebelarse contra la corona española desde allí. Su repentina muerte se produjo el 8 de noviembre de 1786, con la suposición de que pudo haber sido envenenado, pero no se hallaron pruebas que apoyaran esta.

Sin un ingeniero a cargo, la Corona Española ordenó que la construcción se subastara a un precio equivalente a una quinta parte del total gastado en el proyecto. Después de no encontrar compradores, el virrey Juan Vicente Güemes Pacheco destinó el edificio para albergar el Archivo General del Reino de la Nueva España. Esta idea no prosperó, a pesar de que ya se tenían los planos adaptados para este propósito.

Alexander von Humboldt visitó el sitio en 1803 y condenó la venta de puertas, ventanas y cristales del palacio como una forma de recaudar fondos para la Corona. El edificio finalmente fue comprado en 1806 por el gobierno municipal de la Ciudad de México.

Independencia de México

El Castillo de Chapultepec fue abandonado durante la Independencia de México (1815-1821) hasta muchos años después, en 1833. En ese año el edificio fue elegido para ser la ubicación del Colegio Militar; como consecuencia, se hicieron varias modificaciones estructurales, incluida la adición de la torre de vigilancia.

Guerra mexicano-estadounidense

Durante la Guerra mexicano-estadounidense (1846-1848), el ejército estadounidense bombardeó el castillo desde el 12 hasta el 13 de septiembre de 1847, e izó en sus murallas la bandera estadounidense, en señal de victoria.

Ese mismo día, el 13 de septiembre de 1847, los Niños Héroes murieron defendiendo el palacio, cuando éste era tomado por los soldados norteamericanos durante la Batalla de Chapultepec. Actualmente los cadetes son honrados por un monumento a la entrada del Bosque de Chapultepec, y tanto el nombre colectivo “Niños Héroes” como los nombres individuales son sinónimo de entrega y valor.

Segundo Imperio Mexicano

Con el nombre de Castillo de Miravalle en esta etapa el palacio comenzó a adquirir una imagen moderna, cuando a la llegada del emperador Maximiliano de Habsburgo, Maximiliano I de México, y su esposa la emperatriz Carlota en 1864 decidieron establecer ahí su residencia oficial. El Emperador contrató a varios arquitectos europeos y mexicanos, entre ellos Julius Hofmann, Carl Gangolf Kayser, Carlos Schaffer, Eleuterio Méndez y Ramón Rodríguez Arangoity, para realizar varios proyectos que siguieron un estilo Ecléctico en la arquitectura (contrastando con el resto del castillo que tiene una arquitectura neoclásico) y convertir el palacio en un lugar más habitable.

El botánico Wilhelm Knechtel se encargó de crear el jardín situado en la azotea del edificio. Además, el Emperador trajo de Europa varias piezas de mobiliario, arte y muchos otros finos artículos que siguen exhibiéndose hasta el día de hoy. Debido a que el palacio estaba retirado de la Ciudad de México, el emperador Maximiliano ordenó la construcción de un bulevar que conectaba directamente la residencia imperial con el centro de la ciudad, y decidió nombrarlo Paseo de la Emperatriz (en honor a su esposa). El actual Paseo de la Reforma.

Edad moderna

Actualmente se continúa utilizando como museo, sus 19 salas contienen un vasto rango de artículos que rebasan los noventa mil donde se exhibe e ilustra la historia de México desde la conquista española, con diversos objetos tales como armaduras medievales, espadas y cañones entre muchos otros. Su colección de objetos los ha organizado en 6 curadurías:

  • Pintura, escultura, dibujo, grabado y estampa.
  • Numismática.
  • Documentos históricos y banderas.
  • Tecnología y armas.
  • Indumentaria y accesorios.
  • Mobiliario y enseres domésticos.

Además brinda servicios como biblioteca, videoteca, fototeca y visitas guiadas.

Vamos a Cholula

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Cholula

Nuestra Señora de los Remedios

Cholula is a hop, skip and a jump away from Puebla. By car it only takes about 20 minutes, by bus you should expect a journey of about 40 minutes which costs 8 pesos, or if you are going by Taxi you should expect to pay about 80 pesos. It is divided into two parts, San Pedro Cholula and San Andres Cholula. This post is about San Pedro where the Great Pyramid is located. San Andres is the location of many bars and clubs so is a very popular destination for many poblanos in the evenings at the weekend (but that’s for another post). Cholula is an exceptional place. Unbelievably for such a small city (population of 100,000) it is said to have 365 churches. This might be a slight exaggeration but it gives you an idea of what the city looks like – practically a church on every corner. Cholula is home to the Great Pyramid which is said to be the biggest pyramid in the world in terms of its base size. Now this isn’t your typical egyptian pyramid, but a pyramid that looks like a very big hill with a church at the top of it (Nuestra Señora de los Remedios). The pyramid has been excavated in certain parts so you can see original sections. These are impressive and very much in the style of Teotihuacan (Mexico City).

Climb up to Nuestra Señora de los Remedios

One of the best things about going to Cholula is the walk up to church at the top of the pyramid. A recent trip (made by my friends and myself) showed an in shape person can get up to the top within five to ten minutes, but be warned it is a little steep and I would suggest to take water with you. On the way up to the top, there is a woman who sells edible insects. You HAVE to try them. Surprisingly they are quite delicious (salty and lemony) , and it’s a good story to take home with you. Once you reach the top, not only do you have the beautiful site of the church but also amazing views of Puebla. On a clear day you will also have the bonus of the most stunning view of the beloved Popo (Popocatépetl) which is the Poblano Volcano.

Mmm delicious crickets

On your way down from the church, or before you go up, I suggest going into the tunnels of the pyramid. These were created by archaeologists in the 1930’s but feature real parts of the pyramid that can be seen from the passage ways. The tunnels lead you conveniently out right next to the excavated archaeological sites which show different parts of the pyramid. There is also a small museum which gives a lot of interesting information about the pyramid, and has a really great model of the entire site.

Inside the Labyrinth of Tunnels of the Great Pyramid

A part of the Great Pyramid

If you are able to come in to Cholula by car there are other beautiful places to see as well as the pyramid and its surroundings. One of these places is San Francisco Acatepec which has a beautiful facade and has been called the ‘porcelain temple’. Another beautiful church is Santa Maria Tonantzintla also on the outskirts of Cholula.

Finally, if you can make your trip to Cholula during a weekday the better, as at the weekend it can get very busy.

San Francisco Acatepec

Vamos a Huatulco

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Huatulco, Oaxaca

Soy Poblana loves Puebla, BUT Mexico is a big place full of other great places to visit too. Recently I visited Huatulco which is in the state of Oaxaca. Huatulco is a beach town consisting of nine beautiful bays, located on the pacific coast. It is also home to a vibrant town centre that has many bars, restaurants and shops. Huatulco is a welcome change to the obvious choice of Cancún, and a much cheaper one too. Though Cancún has much to offer and is worth the visit, Huatulco is far moremexican, more authentic and offers a beach resort which has not been americanised. And of course it is in the great state of Oaxaca, which has so much character and charm. Huatulco remains a well kept secretly internationally with only 20% of its tourism coming from oversees. Its high seasons are in the months of June/ July and over the Christmas/ New Year period.

All roads leading to Huatulco

There is lots to do in Huatulco, the most popular being visiting the bays.  There are daily boat trips offered my numerous companies that take you around all the bays leaving from Bahía de Santa Cruz. One of these bays is Bahía Cacaluta (protected by the national park in which it is located) which is only accessible by boat and was the filming location of the beach in ‘Y tu mamá también‘. The bay is about 1 km long and has been untouched by tourism.  These boat trips allow you to get off and swim in a couple of the bays, and also grab lunch.  Alternatively (or additionally) you can access the bays by foot or taxi if you want to spend longer at individual ones. Bahía Chahué is the most easily accessible beach and in walking distance from many of the hotels. It is home to a couple of beach clubs, and a bar/restaurant which has two swimming pools available to the public.

Playa Entrega

Bahía Chahué

Aside from the magnificent bays, which offer great snorkelling opportunities (I recommend La playa Entrega which is accesible by Taxi), boat trips, speed boats and banana boats, there are also other activities available such as white water rafting, horseback riding, or relaxing at a local spa. This is a lively town by night, with the town centre (La Crucecita) located away from the beaches, offering its own unique atmosphere and a great night out. There are also night clubs and bars by the beaches such as La Papaya.

White Water Rafting at a nearby river in Huatulco

The prices in Huatulco are very reasonable for a beach resort, you should except to be paying around 20/25 pesos for a beer (the cost of a beer is always my measure of whether I am getting ripped off or not). However if you want to drink/eat right on the beach, the prices increase dramatically. For this reason I recommend eating out in La Crucecita, and if you want to drink on the beach (who doesn’t?) then bring a cooler full to the brim with ice cold cervezas.  One beach-side restaurant which offers good prices is ‘Ve el Mar‘ located in the bay of Santa Cruz. Like many restaurants in Huatulco they offer excellent fish and seafood dishes.  Within La Crucecita, along with restaurants and bars, there is also a market called ‘El Mercado 3 Mayo’ which is a great place to grab breakfast or lunch for great prices.

Sunshine is expected for about 330 days of the year in Huatulco with an average temperature of  28°C.

Temazcal Spa

Where to stay in Huatulco? It really depends on your budget, keeping in mind that you can get a lot more from your money if you are coming from abroad, you can get high standard hotels for cheaper than you would expect.  Also there are cheaper options too. I recommend usinghotel/travel websites using the budget you have, keeping in mind whether a swimming pool is important to your trip as not all hotels offer them. Many hotels also offer beach clubs (if they are not located on a beach) which often also have a swimming pool.

How to get to Huatulco?  Huatulco has an international airport which receives flights from the USA and also Mexico City (2 hour flight) and Oaxaca (the state capital).  You can get there by car which takes about 8.5 hours (from Puebla) or by bus which takes about 12 hours (from Puebla). The bus is a very good option if you don’t have a car, with the cheapest return fair costing only 1000 pesos. The bus leaves (from CAPU) in the evening so you arrive in the morning in Huatulco. Mexico offers different levels of buses, with added things included for the more you pay (for example movies / larger seats / wifi). Though the basic buses are very comfortable and an inexpensive way to get around Mexico.  ADO is the bus line which goes to Oaxaca and Huatulco.

Anything else?  Puerto Escondido, only an hour or two away from Huatulco, is a bohemian beach town which is also worth the visit and worth tagging on to your trip if you can.

Check out Soy Poblana’s facebook page for additional posts and information about life in Puebla and Mexico!

Visit Mexico this Winter

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

Winter in the Sun

[Note: This is a guest post written in partnership with ‘Journey Latin America‘]

We all know how it is.  The winter blues. It’s cold, it’s rainy and it certainly is not sunny.  That is certainly not the case here in sunny sunny Mexico. I present to you two great destinations to visit this winter: firstly, Puebla,Mexico’s best kept secret, a colonial city on the foothills of the Sierra Madre and secondly, Huatulco, an untouched breath taking beach resort, located on the pacific coast. Each offer a vastly different holiday experience, neither of which should be missed out on.

Puebla’s Historical Center

Puebla, only two hours away from Mexico City, is the fourth biggest city in Mexico. Relatively unvisited, it is fantastically authentic and home to, in my opinion and to many others, the best street food in Mexico. Visiting Puebla will give you a great city experience, with so much culture and tradition to discover. For example, did you know that 5 de Mayo happened in Puebla, or that it is home to mole, tacos arabes, cemitas, and memelas? Puebla has a very agreeable climate year round.  In the winter it has temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius during the day, and 10 degrees in the evening. This is an alternative Mexican holiday that will show the realMexico whilst giving you the warm weather you are missing at home.

Fun in the Sun, Huatulco, Oaxaca

About 9 hours down the road is Huatulco (home of the beach in ‘Y tu mamá también’) in the state of Oaxaca. It is a worthy alternative to Cancún, not only in offering cheaper prices, but in that it offers a far more Mexicanexperience.  It is comprised of 9 bays, each with their unique charm. A boat trip of all the bays, snorkelling, beers on the beach, eating delicious seafood, sunbathing, and rafting are musts for your visit. The resort really is a well kept secret by Mexicans, with less than twenty percent of tourism coming from outside of the country.  However it is easily accessible as it has its own airport with daily flights from Mexico City. How about the weather? Temperatures go from 30/35 degrees Celsius during the day to 15/20 degrees in the evenings.

Now it might be that you sound the like of both and you have a couple of weeks to spare. ‘Journey Latin America‘ a London based travel agency with an excellent reputation, offers holidays to Mexico including a two week trip that visits Puebla, Huatulco, and the wonderful city of Oaxaca as well as Monte Alban, Teotihuacan, and Mexico City. Check out ‘Oaxaca and the Pacific Coast‘ for the full itinerary.

To read more about Puebla, including its wonderful food, check out the other posts on the blog, and the official facebook page. Also check out more in-depth post on Huatulco.