It’s Tamales Day! Make Your Own Traditional Oaxacan Sweet Tamales

It’s Tamales Day! Make Your Own Traditional Oaxacan Sweet Tamales

When the holiday season comes to its end on January 6, the person who was lucky to get the toy of baby Jesus in her piece of Rosca de Reyes (the traditional pastry served during Epiphany day in Mexico) is in charge of hosting a feast on February 2, when tamales and atole are served. It is a follow-up of Epiphany day (or Día de los Reyes Magos, how it is called in Mexico) and has mixed roots in pre-Hispanic traditions and Catholic beliefs.

Where the celebration comes from?

February 2 is known as “Día de la Candelaria” or “Presentation of the Lord”. By the Jewish law, all the babies were supposed to be taken to the temple 40 days after they were born. So 40 days after Christmas, on the exact February 2, Mary took Jesus to the temple along with candles. Until these days, there is a tradition in Mexico to bring the images of baby Jesus and candles to the church to be blessed.

Pre-Hispanic Mexicans also had the tradition of paying a tribute to the rain god and clouds to pray for their agricultural activity. They dressed up the children and making them cry as an augury of water abundance. It is most likely the Spaniards linked those two traditions when they were spreading the catholicism in Mexico.

It's Tamales Day! Make Your Own Traditional Oaxacan Sweet Tamales | Mexatia

Oaxacan Sweet Tamales Recipe For Your Tamales Day Celebration | Mexatia

Why are tamales so important for Mexicans? 

February 2 is also known as Tamales day among foodies. It is the day when you are allowed to eat as much as tamales as you can! Tamales were traditional meal among the Mexican natives which was often connected with agricultural celebrations. Tamales are made from corn and the corn was the most important ingredient in the pre-Hispanic Mexican cuisine. Its importance in the modern cuisine did not change much. Corn tortillas, bread, and tamales are the base of every Mexican person’s diet.

Traditionally, tamales are made by hand so you will need to work for them. They are not hard to prepare, you just need to get ready for some serious kneading because the corn-based dough requires it. Once you learn the technique, you will definitely agree they are worth the effort. There are many different types of tamales and most of them are salty. They can be filled ith spiced meat, cheese, vegetables or fruits and wrapped in fresh banana leaves or dried corn husks and steamed. 

Oaxacan Sweet Tamales Recipe For Your Tamales Day Celebration | Mexatia Oaxacan Sweet Tamales Recipe For Your Tamales Day Celebration | Mexatia Oaxacan Sweet Tamales Recipe For Your Tamales Day Celebration | Mexatia

Oaxacan sweet tamales are easy to make!

I must admit most of the salty tamales I tried (better – I tried to try) were too spicy for me, but I did fell in love with sweet and yummy version. Yes, tamales can be whatever you want them to be! When we were coming from Mexico, we brought two packages of corn husks for tamales. Just in case, if we ever decide to make them. Luckily, they have no expiration date and year and a half later they were waiting for us.

We got a real Mexican masa harina (special corn dough they use for tamales and tortillas) in Pekinška patka store here in Zagreb. They also have corn husks if you need some. For the tasty Oaxacan sweet tamales, we also used homemade pork fat, red food coloring, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon powder and canned pineapple.

Oaxacan Sweet Tamales Recipe For Your Tamales Day Celebration | Mexatia

It takes around 30 minutes to make the dough and 30 minutes to roll the tamales. From 1/2 kg of flour, we got 10 tamales, which was more than enough to feed 4 persons. If you plan to serve it only as a snack or dessert, you can even serve one tamal per person. Once they are made, they need to steam for around an hour. We used the real steamer as well as improvised on the stove and both did an excellent job.

Traditional Oaxacan Sweet Tamales
Serves 4
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 kg / 1 lb corn flour (masa harina)
  2. 1 tea spoon baking powder
  3. 3/4 cup of pig fat
  4. 8 spoons of brown sugar
  5. 1 tea spoon of cinnamon
  6. 10 drops of red food colouring
  7. 1/2 can of pineapple, cut into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Put the corn husks in the warm water, to soften so you could roll them. If you try to do it with dried ones, they would immediately break.
  2. To make the dough, combine the flour and the spoon by spoon warmed pig fat and knead it all the time. When the dough is not sticky anymore, you can add the baking powder, cinnamon and sugar. Add more sugar than you initially think, because the steaming process will reduce some.
  3. Divide the dough into pieces big enough to fit into corn husks and color each with some red food coloring. They should just be partially colored - that is how Mexicans marks the sweet tamales among all the others.
  4. Take the corn husks out of the water, dry them a bit and fill with the dough and cut pineapple pieces. Do not overstuff them because they need to be rolled in a nice bundle.
  5. Roll each tamal and close it well from each side. Wrap them as the little presents using the food thread or pieces of corn husks.
  6. Put them in the steamer and cook for approximately 1 hour. Take out one tamal and let it cool little bit. Try if it is already cooked - it cannot be chevy - and let them cook a bit more if not. Be careful not overcook them because they can easily become too dry.
Mexatia https://mexatia.com/

 

It's Tamales Day! Make Your Own Traditional Oaxacan Sweet Tamales | Mexatia

As for all the other wonderful Mexican recipes, for this tasty Oaxacan sweet tamales recipe we can thank my mother in law, Jaime’s mom. Participating in Tamales day is an excellent and tasty way how to keep Mexican traditions alive.  (more…)

Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful Mexican holiday

Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful Mexican holiday

It’s that time of the year again! The most colorful Mexican holiday is just around the corner and our preparations are in the full swing! Don’t let the name fool you, Day of the Dead in Mexico brings lots of fun and colorful activities. It is the time to celebrate the life and death, not to mourn and be sad.

If you know anything about Mexico and their culture, I am sure you heard about Mexican Day of the Dead or el Día de los Muertos in Spanish. Day of the Dead is an ancient Mexican holiday, and even it is celebrated in the same period, it is not a version of American Halloween. They have some common grounds, but the ideas behind are completely different.

Day of the Dead is a pre-Columbian holiday which was later integrated into the Christian traditions. Its roots come from Aztecs culture and other Mexican tribes which were honoring the spirits of those who have died. Until these days, it remained a holiday which honors the memory of the dead, as the name suggests.

The Aztecs celebrated it in another time period, but with the rise of Christianity in Mexico, the holiday was moved closer to All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The old traditions and practices were merged with new ones and since then the festivities are organized on November 1 and 2. while November 1 is dedicated to the children who passed away (called angelitos or little angels in Spanish) and November 2 is the day when we remember the adults. It is believed that on those days spirits of deceased come to visit their families in order to spend the entire day with them. Families do everything to welcome them as best as they can.

Read more about Mexican holidays: Mexican Independence Day and how we celebrated it in Croatia

What is Day of the Dead all about?

Mexican holidays are always colorful and they are always all about the family. El Día de los Muertos celebrates family and its members both alive and dead. 

In rural Mexico where the most of the inhabitants are indigenous, some of the ancient traditions are still practiced. Some of them are a bit extreme and include the opening of boxes with bones of deceased and cleaning them, but many of them are practiced in the well-developed cities too. During these days Mexicans are decorating graves and spending time with their loved ones, making the altars in their homes, preparing the delicious food, bringing deceased’s favorite dishes to the graveyards and praying for deceased.

It is believed that during this time spirits of deceased come back to Earth to visit their living family members. These days are not the time to be sad, in contrary, they are full of joy and celebration. It keeps us in touch with those who we love and who we miss.  

Preparing the food for the celebration

As in every celebration in Mexico, the food plays a significant part in Day of the Dead festivities. The morning of October 31 is reserved for a visit to the local market. The families buy different fruits which will be used in the altar decoration, like mandarins, lemons, nisperos, oranges and bananas.

The popular dishes prepared in this season are tamales, pumpkins, mole negro, hot artisanal chocolate, atole, champurrado, the bread of the dead and sugar skulls. Day of the Dead bread or Pan de Muertos is the main dish associate with this holiday. If you make only one dish for the celebration, it should be this one. It is a tasty, sweet rounded bread decorated with bread in shapes of the bones.

If you wish to make your altar decoration a bit more extreme, you could buy (or make) sugar skulls, called calaveras de azucar, which symbolize the life and death. They are usually made of aramanth and chocolate, decorated with different colors and often the names of deceased and placed on the altar. Nowadays, many other figures are made as well, as coffins and skeletons. You can buy them in every traditional market at the end of the October.

I must mention how this holiday can be extremely expensive for many Mexican families. All the fruits and decorations, different dishes, as well as this special bread, can be a major blow to the budget of numerous poor families. However, this holiday is so significant to them, they sometimes spend even a monthly income to prepare the celebration.

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia
Photo credit: Isabel from Sunny side of this
 

How to make Day of the Dead altars

On the eve of October 31, Mexican families get together to prepare the altars (called “ofrendas” or the offerings in Spanish) in their homes to welcome the spirits. This is the way how they remember the deceased family members as well as honor the lives of those who were (and still are) important to them.

The altars usually consist of two or three levels. On the table, you can place one or two boxes to create different tires and display the items on the altar better. If there are two levels, one represents the Earth and the other Heaven. Altars with three levels represent Earth, Heaven, and Purgatory. Cover the boxes with the tablecloth of your choice, you can decide if it is going to be colorful or you will keep everything in tone.

Take two reeds (esp. cañas), make an arch over the altar and decorate it with flowers as well as mandarins and lemons. The arch symbolizes a way to the heaven, the path between life and death.

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

To decorate the altar you should use the orange marigold flowers (esp. cempasúchil, hr. kadifica) which are known to as a flower of the dead in Mexico. Because of their bright color and specific smell, they are believed to attract the souls of deceased to the offerings and they are traditionally used to honor the dead. You can put them in a vase or scatter them all around the altar.

Besides flowers, decorate with lighted candles (they are bringing light to the spirits and help them to find the way), photos of deceased (if you wish, you can skip if your altar is dedicated to more persons or it is not dedicated to anyone in particular, or if you simply do not like it) and bread of the dead. Besides the bread, you can put any other traditional food or food your ancestors liked. Candies, chocolate, and tamales are always welcome.

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

Besides the traditional items, every family puts the items deceased enjoyed during the life. It could be literally anything – a shot of mezcal, candies, … The only rule you should be following is that it means something you and your family. Even if you are not in Mexico, you can still make your altar anywhere in the world. It is one of the traditions we are going to nurture in our family.

After the altar is taken down, you can share the food with your family members. However, it is believed the offerings are left without the taste and smell after the spirits are gone. Would you like to see if it is truth? Jaime said it is and our bread last year got much drier than the one we kept on the table.

Going to the cemetery

Back in time, the deceased were usually buried in family courtyards so families prepared only altars at home. Today, when people are buried in graveyards, people started to decorate the graves too. In Oaxaca, families decorate the graves with flower petals, some people even spend the whole night in the cemetery, celebrating life and eating deceased’s favorite dishes. 

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

El día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico, the most colorful holiday | Mexatia

Best places to visit for Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead is maybe the best time to visit Mexico. Festivities are organized in towns and cities all across the country, but locations do have different customs and ways how they celebrate. Even though you can enjoy those celebrations more or less anywhere in Mexico, some towns are known to organize bigger and more colorful festivities, especially southern regions of Oaxaca, Michoacan, and Chiapas.

In Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca you can enjoy tapetes de arena competition (artwork in the sand, inspired with catholic and Day of the dead motives) in Plaza de la Danza or check out the best altar contest in the main cemetery. The winner is the most good looking and the most traditional altar. Besides in the capital, you can enjoy colorful celebrations in surrounding towns of Zaachila, Etla, Tuxtepec and Xoxocotlan as well.

Michoacán is one of the Mexican states with the longest traditions of Day of the Dead festivities. In the town around the Pátzcuaro lake and Janitzio island the tradition of spending the nights awake in the graveyards (esp. ritual de velación) is still practiced. In the cities of Jarácuaro, Aracutín and Cuanajo you can find spectacular el Día de los Muertos decorations and offerings. In “pueblo mágico” Pátzcuaro you can feel the feast all around and the Pantheon is covered with offerings.

Huge Mexico City is filled with colors during the holiday season. The offerings are placed in many city museums, but probably the best place to visit is the Magic Quarter Mixquic, in the southeast of the city, where the tombs are wonderfully decorated and the pantheon of San Andrés is the center of happenings. You can also visit offerings in Ciudad Universitaria and Dolores Olmedo Museum to experience this wonderful holiday.

Ok, I guess you already got a clue about Day of the Dead in Mexico. This holiday is such an important aspect of Mexican culture that has been recognized by UNESCO as part of its intangible cultural heritage. The way how they celebrate life reflects the other aspects of Mexican culture as well.

The colorfulness, the positivity, and the family unity is what makes Mexican culture so distinctive and so valuable. I loved how Maggie from @travelwithMagz said she was in love with all the colors and how differently Mexicans celebrate death in comparison how they do it the US. In the US they mourn instead of celebrating people’s lives, after all – the same like we do it in Croatia.

Is Day of the Dead you favorite Mexican holiday too? 🙂

 

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Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia

Last year in September we just arrived in Croatia and we had many other things in mind, so we did not plan any celebration for Mexican Independence Day. This year, however, the situation is completely different! We are on vacation, we have enough free time and we both miss some Mexican food and a few Latin flavors and moves.

Summer decided to stay longer this year and the weather is (was!) still beautiful and we decided to organize a little fiesta in our garden, as well as attend the picnic organized by other Mexicans from Facebook group Mexicanos en Croacia. Here’s how we celebrated Mexican Independence Day in Croatia.

The best way to celebrate Mexican Independence Day is with tacos, margaritas, and friends!Click To Tweet

Read more: Viva Mexico! How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia

Mexican fiesta in the garden

While I was making food, Jaime decorated the house and garden with papel picado (my favorite Mexican decoration!) and lights. The tables were covered with colorful tablecloths and big Mexican scarfs and over the door, we hung beautiful handmade carpet, which Jaime’s parents bought last year. Around we have put sombreros, alebrijes, and other Mexican crafts to make everyone feel like they were really in Mexico.

Mexican fiesta can never be too colorful! More colors there are, the ambience is better.Click To Tweet

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

We decided to prepare traditional and tasty food served with colorful salsas and garnishes like corn, cheese, and onions with chilies. Here is the list of dishes and recipes (I will add more (all) over the time).

  • tacos de cochinita pibil, one of the tastiest tacos,
  • tacos al pastor, signature tacos of Mexico City,
  • tacos de bistec and pollo,
  • tacos de carnitas,
  • guacamole and tomato salsa, to give the right flavors,
  • frijoles refritos, beans dipping salsa,
  • rainbow salsa, very attractive and tasty salad, and
  • tortilla chips with cheese salsa.

For more inspiration, check out our favorite Mexican cookbooks in English – Tacopedia, and Mexico: The Cookbook. They are both full of fantastic recipes.

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

To spice the things up, you could take some of the homegrown chili paprikas (my mom is planting them especially for Jaime) and pour it over with tequila, mezcal (Mexican traditional drink, less known internationally than tequila) and margaritas.

Also, mom made the best desert – tres leches cupcakes. After trying (and adoring) her tres leches cake, I knew these cupcakes would be an excellent addition to the party!

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

The whole evening was wonderful! The weather was just perfect and we enjoyed the night in the garden while people were learning about Jaime’s traditions and enjoyed the food we prepared. It was great to see our friends and colleagues trying out new flavors. We can’t wait to repeat it next year! 

Mexican picnic at Bundek lake

Saturday morning we spent in Bundek, enjoying Mexican traditional food with other Mexicans living in Croatia. I had no idea there’s so many of them here, but I’m glad they are and we were able to attend this lovely gathering.

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Everybody brought something to eat – we decided on taquitos, onions with chilies and tomato salsa. We tried tacos de tinga (one of Mexican food I prepare the most often), empanaditas with beans, mole, rice and one lady even brought homemade tortillas. Those were the best tortillas I’ve ever tried and they were still warm, yummy!

Tortillas are the best when they are warm. Heating them up in a microwave with water will work too.Click To Tweet

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Jaime enjoyed eating Mexican candies and trying out mezcal with his friend. We also meet many new people and the whole day was a great experience. 

However, some poor soul called the police reporting there is hanged Mexican flag and, by Croatian law, one is not allowed to show other countries flags without prior permission. The police came and fined us with 300 kunas, obviously unhappy they needed to do that because we did not do any harm to anyone. We were not loud or unpolite, just the flag was hanging there. Ah. 

Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia | Mexatia

Luckily, they did not ruin the mood (too much) and we continued to chit chat and play Mexican games. These few days dedicated to Mexico were so heartwarming, spent in a good environment.

We were surrounded by nice people and awesome food – we couldn’t ask for more! Next year we will definitely repeat 🙂

Salud!

If you are interested how the celebration looks like, check out our post about how to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. You can also learn more about Christmas traditions in Mexico or Day of the Dead festivities.

 

Get your Mexico Lonely Travel Guide here.
Find your accommodation on Booking.com, or Airbnb (use this link to get 32 EUR off for your first trip!).

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Time for Fiesta: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Croatia

Viva Mexico: How To Celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Viva Mexico: How To Celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Mexican Independence Day

It is *that* time of the year again!

In September, Mexico celebrates its Independence day and everything in the country becomes green, white and red. For weeks before you can buy decorations everywhere you go. You got it, Mexican Independence day is the major Mexican celebration and it begins on 15 of September, on the eve of the Independence Day. 

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Every year, when the clock strikes 11 pm on 15th September, the President of Mexico rings the bell and shouts “Viva México!” (check out the entire speech below) from the balcony of the National Palace, before he rings the bell again and waves the flag. He shouts to the crowds gathered on Zocalo, the main square of Mexico City, and the crowds respond “Viva!” to the each shout.

Viva Mexico is the most popular Mexican shout. It means 'long live Mexico'.Click To Tweet

It is the modern version of the famous “Grito de Dolores” (Dolores’s shout or cry for the independence, where Dolores is the name of the town where everything started) which serves as a reminder on those who fought for free Mexico and marks the beginning of the celebrations and festivities.

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day | Mexatia

President Peña Nieto waving the flag (source)

“¡Mexicanos! (Mexicans!)
¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria! (Long live the heroes who gave us our homeland!)
¡Viva Hidalgo! (Long live Hidalgo!)
¡Viva Morelos! (Long live Morelos!)
¡Viva Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez! (Long live Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez!)
¡Viva Allende! (Long live Allende!)
¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros! (Long live Aldama and Matamoros!)
¡Viva la Independencia Nacional! (Long live the independence of our nation!)
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!” (Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!)

Source: Wikipedia

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Dolores Hidalgo, a small Mexican town where the war started

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Dolores Hidalgo

Story about the Grito

The very first Grito happened more than 200 years ago, on 16 of September 1810 in the small town of Dolores, located in the state of Guanajuato.

The local priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla liberated the prisoners from the local prisons at the dawn of September 16. It happened right before he rang the church bells and called the people to fight for independence against Spaniards. It was the first movement which attracted larger crowds and started the 11 years long fight.

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Even though the independence was officially proclaimed only in 1821, this date is considered to be one of the most important ones in Mexican history. 

As you may notice, the original Grito happened on September 16, however, the celebrations start a day before. For that, we can thank Porfirio Diaz, a Mexican president from 1848 to 1876, whose birthday happened to be on September 15. He thought it would be great if he and his beloved Mexico shared a birthday so he moved the celebration!

GOOD TO KNOW

No, Cinco de Mayo it is NOT Mexican Independence Day. It marks the triumph of Mexican army against French troops in Puebla in 1862 and it is celebrated more in the USA than in Mexico itself! Battle of Puebla happened more than 50 years after and it is not a reason to eat tacos and drink margaritas like there is no tomorrow.

Independence Museum in Dolores de Hidalgo

In the small town of Dolores de Hidalgo, you can visit the church where Miguel Hidalgo rang a bell, as well as his house and the museum of Mexican Independence. 

The museum is rather small but offers a great insight into what really happened and how the war started since it is located within the ex-prison. You can see the actual prison doors which were opened by Hidalgo and visiting its 7 exhibition rooms you can learn a lot about backgrounds and precursors of independence, the battle of Granaditas in Guanajuato, Hidalgo’s ending and patriotic symbols.

In the city known as the “Cradle of Independence” this museum is not to be missed to teach us about the most important events of this historical period.

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

No, Cinco de Mayo is NOT a Mexican Independence Day, whatever you may think. Viva Mexico!Click To Tweet

The celebrations around Mexico

Today, Mexican Independence day is celebrated with fireworks, parties, food and other festivities. Every state capital has its own military parade. The biggest one is, of course, organized in Mexico City.

The parade starts in Campo Marte (next to Chapultepec), continues on Paseo de la Reforma, Avenida Juarez, and 5 de Mayo to finish in Zocalo. Some of the typical dishes for the celebration are pozole, tacos de tinga, cochinita pibil, accompanied by tequila and mezcal.

Mexican flag and other patriotic souvenirs can be found everywhere! Everything you can imagine is sold in colors of the Mexican flag – papel picado, cute flags, mustache, chillies  (little chili paprika holding the flag and beer) and you can find many stands around Zocalo in Mexico City.

Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day | Mexatia

Fireworks at Zocalo (source)

The place to be around this days is Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. Located on the corner of Zocalo, it is the perfect place for celebrating the Independence Day. Its hotel rooms and terrace offer magnificent views and allow you to enjoy the celebrations without being in the crowd. 

They organize special events for Independence Day so you definitely want to book in advance

The best place to be on September 16 is Gran Hotel's terrace. Splendid view and huge margaritas!Click To Tweet

If you are interested how the celebration looks like, check out our post about Mexican Independence Day celebrations in Croatia. You can also learn more about Christmas traditions in Mexico or Day of the Dead festivities.

 

Get your Mexico Lonely Travel Guide here.
Find your accommodation on Booking.com, or Airbnb (use this link to get 32 EUR off for your first trip!).

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Viva Mexico: How to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Outdoor Museum in Parque Hundido, Mexico City

Outdoor Museum in Parque Hundido, Mexico City

When I first visited, there was a park literally two minutes from Jaime’s apartment in Mexico City. I was passing by for almost two weeks before I decided to change my route and stop walking the streets only. I thought it was a regular park, but when Jaime told me it is also known as an outdoor museum I finally took a camera and went for a stroll.

It was raining the day before and I was pretty concerned the rain is going to start when I’ll be in the park, but I was lucky. However, the weather was better for sleeping than for taking pictures and parts of the park were flooded so my stroll was somehow limited. Even the weather was bad, I met lots of walkers, dog walkers and runners in the park.

Briefly, Luis G. Urbina Park is located on the border of Extremadura Insurgentes and Nochebuena colonies in the southwestern part of Mexico City. Because of its topography, it is better known as Parque Hundido (“Sunken Park”). In the past, it was the location of Christmas trees’ forest and after Avenida de los Insurgentes was paved and widened at the beginning of 20th century, the park was made. Nowadays, the park is popular among parents with children, cyclists, runners and dog walkers.

Outdoor museum in Parque Hundido

Since 1972, the park has an enviable collection of 51 pieces of pre-Columbian art which make it an outdoor museum. The art is distributed in various parts of the park, organized by five different sections and five archeological routes were organized: Mayan route, Oaxacan route, highlands route, Olmec’s route and Totonac and Huestec route. Each route has been marked with a different color line on the trails through the park (red, blue, green, yellow and purple). The art is relatively good preserved, but it is really a shame that almost none of it has a table with the explanation.

Besides the art, in the park, you can also find a Floral Clock created by a famous watchmaker from Puebla, a statue of Vincente Guerrero (hero of the Independence of Mexico), an audiorama where you can listen to classical music and poetry, children playground and paying bathroom facilities.

Parque Hundido is a great place for a short walk, run or just to spend some nice time in nature if you want to escape from chaotic Mexico City. However, as much as I heard it is not safe during the night when it becomes a meeting place for prostitutes, so limit your visits on a daytime only.
Outdoor Museum in Parque Hundido, Mexico City | Mexatia

Outdoor Museum in Parque Hundido, Mexico City | Mexatia

Location: Avenida de los Insurgentes Sur, Colonia Extremadura Insurgentes, Benito Juárez, 03740 Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal, México

Great for: morning or afternoon run, relaxing stroll or dog walk

Fee: No

 

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 Outdoor Museum in Parque Hundido, Mexico City | Mexatia

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel

Bond, James Bond

Spectre, opening scene. Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City, masked people, dance, and music. Mexico at its best. James Bond walking with a girl and entering the most stunning hotel in the city. If you saw the latest James Bond movie, you must have noticed Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico as well. If you did not, maybe you would like to watch the video first.

So, do you believe in love at first sight? I do. There is no better way to describe my feelings for Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. Long before James Bond, first time I visited Mexico City in 2014, I planned to walk into the hotel and check it. I saw its pictures in some guide or booking site and I was instantly amazed by it. Somehow, I managed to miss it and I did not pay it a visit.

A year later, we decided to spend a night in one of the city’s hotels before heading to Europe. I already booked another hotel in Roma neighborhood, but my mind kept coming back to this wonderful hotel. I was telling myself it would be better to save the money and stay in some hotel with prefix *budget*, but I could not resist it. We were absolutely sure in our plans so I made a nonrefundable reservation for 84€ + taxes (for September 2015). I could not ignore the fact this year prices for the same period are almost 50% higher.

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Hotel © Mexatia

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Hotel lobby © Mexatia

Luxury with style

As soon as we entered the hotel for the first time, I knew we made a good choice. The hotel is located just off Zocalo. In one moment you are surrounded by the hustle of Mexican streets, but the first step to Gran Hotel takes you centuries back. The Majestic lobby was under preparation for the wedding and, even we did not see the final setup, we could imagine how romantic it was.

As we found out from their web page, the building dates from 1899 since when it was home to one of the first department stores in Mexico City. It was transformed into a hotel in 1968. Back in days travel was glamorous so the hotel needed to be as well. Designed in attractive art deco style it kept a recognizable touch of elegance up to this days. Even today they offer many up-to-date services to satisfy modern travelers, many classical details can be noticed in the hotel. The staff is wearing classical uniforms with cute hats. Grand stairway, antique elevators, and golden birdcages make this place even more impressive.

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Hotel lobby © Mexatia

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Antique elevators © Mexatia

 Room on a second floor

We arrived at the hotel around 5 pm, did smooth check in, picked up our luggage which we stored a week before and got few useful tips from hotel staff. Before I forget, I just want to mention the staff is nice and helpful – they helped us with luggage and allowed to keep the room a bit longer. Almost year after, we still remember some of their names (which we never do!) so you can imagine how happy we were.

We were offered a glass of sparkling wine upon the arrival and Javier, the bellman, escorted us to our room, located on the second floor. With suitcase in one hand and wine glass in other, we followed Javier to old, antique elevator. He said all the guests experience this drive upon check-in, but he suggested us to use modern elevators during our stay.

As soon we stepped into the room, we were amazed. We were on the second floor only, but the views were amazing! Our room was facing Zocalo and we could check the happenings on the main square just with one look. However, we were lucky enough they closed square for traffic that night so we had perfectly calm and quiet night (until army started to rise the flag in the morning, but I was happy to get woken up by that). For the quieter room, ask for ones facing the patio.

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Our room © Mexatia

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Our room © Mexatia

Art deco perfection

As you can see, Gran Hotel offers the perfect combination of luxury, style, and comfort. All of its 60 rooms are decorated in classical style, with beds covered with canopy and bath tubs with classy curtains. Every detail is planned in order to provide you a memorable stay. Room are wonderful and spacious, decorated with taste and it is very hard not to fall in love with the hotel instantly. 

We had big king size bed covered with baldachin and decorated with comfy pillows. There was also a sofa and working table where you could get some blogging work done if you need. On the table, a welcome amenity waiting for us, few sweet treats with my maiden last name written in chocolate (as it was a name under which reservation was made). Jaime ate a cookie before I could take a photo, of course!

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Welcome amenity © Mexatia

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Our room © Mexatia

It was our last night in Mexico and we decided not to go out. We spent last three months exploring the city and we just wanted to enjoy this beautiful hotel. We ordered something to eat (unfortunately we did not try room service, but I heard the restaurant is amazing as rest of the hotel) and rest.

WI-FI was working well and depending on your needs and wishes you could use business center for various printouts or spend some time in the gym, which could be easily accessed just using your key card. While Jaime was talking a bath in that huge bathroom, I went to explore the hotel and just peeked into the gym. It was not big, but more than enough to make your holidays bit more active.

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Baldachin over our bed © Mexatia

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Jaime enjoying our room © Mexatia

Roof-tastic!

To begin with, there is only one thing  I can say – the glass ceiling is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. To be honest, it was the main reason why I wanted to stay here. On a bright day, the sun shines through and creates a beautiful environment. You can notice many tourists coming in just to take photos of that beautiful scenery.

I’ve been following hotel’s Facebook page pretty much since I learned about its existence. I found it very interesting because they are posting many interesting facts about the building and hotel in general. 

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Hotel © Mexatia

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Wonderful roof © Mexatia

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Hotel © Mexatia

The Bar & the View

As the sun came down, we went up. La Terazza restaurant and bar is located on the highest floor and offers wonderful views on Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square. Zocalo is second biggest square in the world (after Moscow’s Red Square) and it is home to monumental buildings like Cathedral, National Palace, and others. 

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

The view © Mexatia

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

The view © Mexatia

We set down just for drinks. Jaime had michelada, beer with salsas, and I went for a margarita. This restaurant serves huge margaritas, seriously – almost big as my head! My brain got frozen several times while I was enjoying this wonderful mango margarita. What an excellent way to finish a perfect day, right?

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com

Huge margaritas in the bar © Mexatia

To conclude this post, I am going to use a quote from their web which describes just perfectly everything this hotel is about. We could not like it more and we could not find a better place to stay before starting our European adventure. “With stunning architecture, beautifully appointed rooms and all the services and amenities expected from a luxury hotel, Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico is the ideal location for enjoying all that Mexico City has to offer.” 

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico
Avenida 16 de Septiembre 82, Colonia Centro Historico
website | Booking.com | HotelsCombinied 

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Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, georgeous art deco hotel | Mexatia.com