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Andrew Collins

Discovering Frida Kahlo's Mexico City

By January 8, 2013

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Kahlo MuseumWhile in Mexico City about six weeks ago, I made my second trip to what's become one of my favorite museums dedicated to a specific artist, the Museo Frida Kahlo, which occupies the blue-walled hacienda (hence the name of the house, Casa Azul) in which the iconoclastic, bisexual artist worked and resided during the last two decades of her life. Part of the fun of visiting this museum, apart from the fact that several cute and friendly cats wander freely among the compound's luxuriant gardens and courtyards, is that it's located in a charming, pedestrian-friendly colonial suburb of Mexico City, called Coyoacan (easily reached by Metro or a 20- to 30-minute taxi ride). In same neighborhood as the Kahlo Museum, which is filled with Frida's paintings as well as a trove of artifacts and furnishings, you can also visit Museo Casa de Leon Trotsky, where the exiled Russian revolutionary resided until he was murdered - when you tour the museum, you visit the actual room in which he was awkwardly, but successfully, dispatched with an ice axe.

Frida's turbulent relationship with iconic Mexican painter and muralist Diego Rivera also figures prominently in this picturesque part of Mexico City. Diego lived in La Casa Azul with Frida for 25 years, and Rivera's home studio - in which Kahlo also had a studio and living space - is in the nearby, similarly historic and affluent village of San Angel. Here's my article with advice on visiting these museums as well as some of the other worthy diversions of Coyoacan and San Angel. Additionally, for an even more extensive tour of related sites and museums around the capital region, I recommend reading the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Tour of Mexico City, on About.com's Mexico Travel site.

I've stayed at a few excellent hotels in Mexico City during my two visits. Most recently, I spent time at the posh Hyatt Regency Mexico City, an excellent choice for its panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains as well as for its first-rate service and terrific recreational and spa facilities. And I then stayed a few doors away at the uber-hip and dashingly designed W Hotel Mexico City, a perfect choice if you're a fan of bold design, high-tech gadgets, and see-and-be-seen bars and restaurants (you'll find some very cool places to dine and drink at the hotel). Both properties are in the upscale Polanco neighborhood and just steps from the many museums of Chapultepec Park. On my last night, I chose a very reasonably priced, historic boutique hotel, La Casona Mexico City, in the trendy and historic Roma neighborhood (right on the border with the similarly intriguing Condesa district). La Casona is a terrific choice if you're looking to save a little money - rooms are individually, and colorfully, decorated, and you're a 15-minute walk or short cab ride from the gay bars of Zona Rosa.

January 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm
(1) J Lamy says:

Mexico city is a surprising place! Besides all the bad propaganda Mexico and Mexico city have changed a lot in last decade. Mexico is definitely one place everybody should go and get in touch with its amazing rich culture!

January 9, 2013 at 7:00 pm
(2) gaytravel says:

I couldn’t agree more – thanks for the comment!

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