Palacio de Bellas Artes - Mexico City

The Beaux Arts exterior of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.
The building  houses an art museum, a performing arts theatre and opera house

Palacio de Bellas Artes - Mexico City

Mexico City has some of the finest and oldest architecture in North America.  Mexico City and the surrounding environs were thriving cities in the Mayan, Toltec and Aztec periods well before the Spanish Conquistadores arrived.  While Jamestown, Virginia was a foundering (1607) colony of lean-tos, Mexico City was a bustling Spanish settlement, decades old, with solid stone buildings and a Cathedral unrivaled in the Americas.

The Palacio de Bellas Artes (pictured above), is a neo-classical white marble structure that sits across from the Alameda and adjacent to Bellas Artes Metro Station in central Mexico City. It serves as an art museum and hosts performance arts. It is the premier opera house of Mexico City and known visually for the extravagant Beaux Arts exterior, which was created from imported Italian Carrara white marble. Palacio de Bellas Artes is the home of several murals. Most notably those of Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco.

The building of The Teatro Nacional, as it was then known, began on October 1, 1904. Designed by Italian architect Adamo Boari, it was originally scheduled to be completed by 1908. The project had several construction delays, many prompted by subsidence in Mexico City's notoriously poor soil. President Porfirio Díaz sited the theatre near the then financial district. It is located on the Northeast corner of the Alemeda promenade. The mass of the building is so great that it has been settling a few inches each year into the muddy earth of Mexico City.

The building was also delayed by many events among them the 1910 Mexican Revolution & Boari’s departure from Mexico in 1916, which virtually halted construction until 1932. Work resumed under the direction of Mexican architect Federico Mariscal and main building was completed in 1934. The final configuration of the square with gardens and Pegasus statues, designed by Boari, was not completed until 1994.

I had a wonderful evening wandering around the Alameda and through the streets of central Mexico City photographing.  A light shower might have dampened theater goers but it aided my exterior photo of the Palacio de Bellas Artes amplifying the reflections of the lights in the wet cobblestone pavement.

The best time to do cityscape "night" photos is at dusk, 30-60 minutes after sunset, while there is still light in the sky and after the building and city lights have come on.  This time period yields a more pleasing blue/black night sky than when you shoot cityscapes when it is full dark.  The building standout much more prominently than when you have the full black night sky.

Photography and text copyright Jerome Shaw 2007-2013 / www.jeromeshaw.com

Contact me at @JeromeShaw  or Facebook 

Jerome has also wriitten articles and columns for Confluence-Denver, Examiner, Johnny Jet, Bolder Planet, Recommend Magazine and Encompass Magazine

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