20 May 2018

México 2.0: Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso

I found my hostel easily. So I dropped off my bags, and repacked. Once I had my day bag ready, I went out and explored for the rest of the afternoon. I have been to Mexico City before, when I spent a week in 2011, but there are still areas of the city that I haven't touched. The area north and east of the Zocalo for example is still unexplored for me. So this is where I ventured out, and I found the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, or the San Ildefonso College.

The San Ildefonso College is actually a museum and cultural centre, and is considered to be the place where the Mexican muralism movement started. This is in fact the highlight of one's visit here. There are plenty of murals that are just quite fantastic and eye-catching.

The building was being renovated when I visited, mostly because of the damage that was done by the earthquake back in September. Nevertheless, there were still significant areas of the building that was open to the public.

The building used to be a Jesuit college, hence its name. It was closed for a couple of decades until it reopened in 1992 as a cultural centre. Nowadays, the reason to visit are the murals that adorn its walls.

You can see works by Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco, and other artists who spawned the Mexican muralist movement. Even the undersides of the staircases are painted, for example, depicting Cortes and Malinche. I always find Mexican murals slightly bizarre, with exaggerated features and disproportionate limbs. But somehow this is what makes them unique, and worth seeing.


  1. I love Diego Rivera... his work really speaks to me. Yes, the adjective "bizarre" is the right one to qualify many of the murals in Mexico, but they are fascinating to stare it. The longer you look at them, the more you understand the art, I find.

    1. Zhu,

      Yes, I visited several art museums in Mexico, and while at first sight these pieces seem definitely weird, the longer you look at them the more you think that these pieces indeed make sense. I don't know of any other way to explain that!