On any Sunday, Bosque de Chapultepec is packed with locals enjoying the warm sunshine and the cool shady woods and lakes of this vast park. Chapultepec is the lungs of Mexico City and at over 686 hectares, it’s the largest and oldest urban park in all of Latin America.
The crowds stream out of the Chapultepec subway in their thousands and head for the shady tree lined avenues that lead to the lakes in the middle of the park (their ultimate destination) – but of course on their way, it seems necessary to gorge on the street food on offer here, from the hundreds of stands, selling every conceivable Mexican snack such as Tacos, Tamales, Gorditas, Quesadillas, Tostadas, Churros, Ricos Chitos, Tlayudas, Empanadas, Chilaquiles, Fajitas and the (always popular) Chicharron (huge pieces of roast pork crackling). And if that wasn’t enough, there are massive plastic bags full of candy floss, huge carts of popcorn and any number of toy and novelty stands, face painting and, of course, the ubiquitous Mexican wrestling masks. It’s a real feast for the senses with the intense colours, the mixed aromas and the urgent calls from the stall holders luring their prey.
It’s not the most relaxing stroll in a park I’ve ever had but certainly one of the most colourful! And walking away from the throngs – the noise, frivolity and gaudiness – you can’t help but be drawn into the cool majesty of the forest and quietly contemplate all that’s happened in this place.
For it was here in Bosque de Chapultepec at its sacred and only hill that the Aztecs buried the ashes of their rulers and sourced fresh water for their capital, Tenochtitlan, now at the very heart of modern-day Mexico City. Chapultepec was a retreat for their ruling and religious elite such as the infamous Moctezuma II (c 1466 – 1520), the last true Emperor of the Aztec Empire.
Moctezuma II died on June 30th 1520 in his palace in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan whilst a prisoner of the Spanish conquistadors led by Hernán Cortés.
There’s a surprising link to Moctezuma I (Grandfather of Moctezuma II) and the Aztec Empire, here in plain sight at Bosque de Chapultepec, just a short distance from the food carnival just across the park. There’s an ancient Ahuehuete tree (Nahuatl name meaning ‘old water tree’) Taxodium mucronatum or Montezuma cypress, known today as El Sargento, planted by imperial gardener Nezahualcóyotl on behalf of Moctezuma I in 1460. The tree, one of the most cherished trees in Mexico City, was thought to be over 500 years old when it sadly died in 1969, due to a lack of water and contamination. There are plenty of other Ahuehuete trees in Bosque de Chapultepec, all of them a living link to the wonderous ancient Aztec civilisation.
And finally, it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t have any of that delicious smelling street-side food, for I could – just possibly – have succumbed to Moctezuma’s fabled revenge, something I have experienced on trips to this city in the past, and not something I wish to visit again!
2 Comments Add yours
Goodness, those Mexicans love their splashes of colour. It makes your images soooo impactful 😍
LikeLiked by 1 person
Great pictures! and a lovely reminder of our trip to Mexico City , we stayed at the Camino Real hotel just across the road from the park. Glad you are having a good time. S and M xx