Three weeks ago I headed to CDMX for a full week of photography. Both for a collaboration with St Regis Mexico City and to scout for a 2024 workshop. What a great week! I cannot say enough about how amazing I thought the city was – the people (so friendly), the architecture (amazing – old & new), the parks & boulevards (so many and so beautiful), the food (yum).
I know most Americans have this fear of Mexico and, perhaps, warranted in some areas but in the 9 cities I’ve visited and 9 trips I’ve made to this country, I have never once felt uneasy. I spent the entire week alone exploring CDMX for 8-12 hours a day with 2 cameras on me at nearly all times and never once had a moment of unease or apprehension. And in talking with others who have recently visited, I’ve heard similar feelings. Anyway, the point is, don’t let the crazy media deter you from visiting this incredible place.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, lol, we should take a look at the amazing places I had the opportunity to photograph. It’s a lot, so settle in!
Happened upon this colorful building on my way to my first planned stop and couldn’t pass it up 😉
Monument to the Revolution
As the name implies this is a monument to the Mexican Revolution. Until I arrived, I didn’t realize you could go to the top of the dome here. The inside of the dome, with its art deco design and green color, was fun to shoot. Also, a couple of views from various vantage points.
You see the structure reflected in the building across the street + another shot of this interesting building combo. Loved that chevron pattern!
A random street scene on my way back to the hotel. Loved the mix of old and new + the woman’s pants that match some of the greenery.
Constructed in 1725 and the only castle in North America to ever house royalty. Later it became a military academy and today, a museum.
Lots of beautiful details to photograph here and great views of the city from atop the hill.
As you can see, my week did not start out amazing weather-wise. Oh well…
Next on my list was Casa Gilardi. The last home completed by famed architect Luis Barragán. And filled with his signature pops of color. The pool area is especially fun!
The home is still occupied, yet they allow tours a couple of times each day. Incredibly kind of them!
I shared quite a few images here but there were many more made, which you can see on this post specifically about this home. Also, worth noting. All images (except the first one of the exterior) were made with my iPhone, as “real” cameras are not allowed.
Patricia Conde Galería
Then I stopped in this gallery. For 2 reasons – the art and this staircase. Just can’t pass up a good spiral staircase and the texture of this thing is amazing!
Speaking of texture. This city is full of amazing colors, textured facades, peeling paint, etc., which makes for some fun images.
Not to mention, the mix of nature with all these colorful walls.
Casa Estudio Luis Barragán
Now for another Barragán design – his home and studio. Again, tons more photos in this post.
Nuestra Señora del Carmen “The Sabatina”
I stumbled upon this church, which I happened to also see in the distance from Chapultepec Castle. So, I stopped in. Wow, what amazing stained glass in here!
Museo de Arte Moderno
Probably my favorite museum I visited during the trip, at least in terms of the art. Well, because I very much like modern art. The building is also pretty incredible (architects Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and Carlos A. Cazares Salcido). It’s comprised of two circular buildings with these amazing golden ceilings + the grounds have a massive sculpture garden. Pretty fantastic all around.
As with all of these locations, I’m only sharing a few shots from each. I have many more! Some might say too many (there are 565 total!) So, yeah, probably too many but indecision won out yet again.
Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo
Onto another museum (architects Teodoro González de León and Abraham Zabludovsky). There is definitely a distinction between contemporary and modern art. This building is incredible with its skylights and sharp brutalist geometry but the art is just not my thing.
Decided to share the BW versions here to focus the attention on the great shadowplay and textures.
Museo Nacional de Antropología
This was a day of many museums (5 to be exact). Another interesting design (architects Pedro Ramirez Vázquez + Rafael Mijares + Jorge Campuzano) and another type of museum I don’t particularly love – natural history. But, the building is cool!
A signature feature is the open-air patio area with a massive canopy with a waterfall-like feature.
The lattice-like facade on the windows is for sun protection but also makes for pretty fun patterns to photograph.
Museum #4 for the day! When I visited there wasn’t much on display, it looked like they were in the process of installing a new exhibit. But is a modern art museum, definitely more my speed. At this point I may have been on art overload so I was completely good with not much being on display + I was more focused on the architecture (designed by David Chipperfield) at this point.
Clean, geometric lines here with an incredible staircase. Oh, and some nice reflections in neighboring buildings. Always look behind you!
Here you see it framing the final museum of the day…
And one of the locations I was most excited to visit on this trip (designed by Fernando Romero). Love the curves of this, inside and out! It houses art from the 15th to mid-20th century with the world’s largest private collection of Rodin sculptures.
The facade is covered in hexagonal mirrored-steel which pays tribute to the traditional colonial ceramic-tiled building facades. It certainly catches the light in interesting ways and reflects in neighboring buildings which creates this almost reptilian look.
A couple of the Telcel Plaza Carso facade. Loved these triangular windows + a new one for my Cloudscrapers series!
Miguel Lerdo de Tejada Library
Previously a church and now a research library, the walls are covered in this colorful, trippy murals by artist Vladimir Víktorovich Kibálchich Rusakov. Texture abounds here!
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
This massive church took nearly 250 years to complete and a mix of many architectural styles – Gothic, Baroque, Churrigueresque, Neoclassical. There’s a lot going on!
Now, for some random street scenes that caught my eye…
Former College of San Ildefonso
Considered the birthplace of the Mexican muralism movement, it was a boarding school and is now a museum and cultural center.
So many great arches, color, and texture!
Museo Nacional De Arte (MUNAL)
Another amazing art museum. Just look at this staircase!
How about this ceiling!
Just across the street is a very ornate and beautiful post office. Only the first floor was accessible but you can see this amazing staircase and ironwork throughout this space. The exteriors are also pretty incredible.
Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes
The exteriors of this building are in the Art Nouveau style which makes the interior Art Deco a bit surprising but, somehow it works.
The House of Tiles
Originally a palace, it’s now the flagship restaurant of the Sanborns brothers.
Church of San Francisco
Another spot not on my list, this was just across the street from the House of Tiles and I couldn’t pass up this interesting facade.
Citibanamex Culture Palace, Palacio de Iturbide
Another unplanned find, there was a sign out front indicating it was an architecture museum or was exhibiting things related to architecture. Another beautiful, old building. This one was originally built as a wedding gift from Count of San Mateo Valparaíso to his daughter. Crazy!
An interesting mix of old and new here.
This was a fun stop! You can rent these traditional boats, called a trajineras that will take you through the canals. Lots of great color, including the reflections in the water.
Frida Kahlo Museum
This was my biggest fail of the trip. I thought I did my research on this but I needed tickets in advance and lines were long with no openings for over a week so I got what I could from the street. Next visit!
Parroquia San Juan Bautista
A short walk from here I went to grab lunch and came across this church. The ceiling!
Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo
The name pretty much says it all but if you’d like to read more about this and see more images, you can check this post. For now, here are a handful of detailed favorites (architect Juan O’Gorman).
UNAM Central Library/Sculpture
Juan O’Gorman is also the architect of this famous building. The facade is covered in volcanic rock which is painted. I can’t even begin to imagine the vision that went into creating this!
I prefer this detailed look, especially given the harsh midday light, but I’m sharing the wider shot so you can see just how massive this is.
While wandering around here I noticed this sculpture in the distance. By this point, I was exhausted from a week of shooting and just didn’t have the energy to explore the campus further. But, I love this sculpture so I got what I could from a distance.
Also, as I drove here I noticed many interesting sculptures around the campus, definitely worth a revisit along with a number of sites I just didn’t have time to get to.
As you can see, there’s A LOT to see in CDMX. This just scratched the surface of what I shot and edited but, hopefully, you get a good feel for what this city has to offer. At least, architecturally. Time to plan your trip! Or join me next year for a workshop 🙂
Mexico City is one of my favourite cities in the world. You have done a great service by documenting many of its most iconic architectural features!
Thanks, Brian! I absolutely loved it!
Wonderful images in each and every place.