Arts & Culture
University City Essentials – How many of these places have you been to?
Jaen Madrid
The University City of UNAM in the city's south is nearly a universe unto itself. How many of these places have you been to within CU?
Biblioteca Central, Ciudad Universitaria, DF

The ultimate city of studies, UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) University City campus has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. A fascinating history is represented in artistic works embellished with no shortage of small details. Some of them are considered sacred effigies within a necrology of Mexican art made radiant by characters such as José Vasconcelos, who coined the legendary and allegorical emblem of the University: For my people shall my spirit speak. The country’s most important architects of the first modernist movement,  Mario Pani and Juan O’Gorman are represented as are muralists, David Alfaro Siquerios and Diego Rivera. 

To travel through University City is to dialogue with the history of Mexico and its transcendental educational evolution. The primordial patrimony of the university that emanates from every fragment of its cultural microworld. Some of its utopic details are in plain sight, many others are immersed within all that grandeur. Here’s just a little starter.


Volcanic Rock


The most important marrow of the cities birth. Without this fascinating magma frozen by time, the university would not be as emblematic as it is today. Its geomorphic richness can be admired in spaces such as the Pedregal Ecological Reserve of San Ángel, which holds the Espacio Escultórico, with its incredible amorous natural effigies and an enormous 120 meter circumference conformed by volcanic rock walls. The café of the University’s Contemporary Art Museum (MUAC) is also a great place to enjoy this rock, since it is literally built over a sea of precious lava that flows motionless under its crystallized architecture. 


Endemic Flora

jardin botanico

There is a harmonious collection of fauna deities, unique to the region, which has emerged in an authentic and unprovoked way through almost the entire university. The source of this beauty lies in the UNAM’s Botanical Garden, a conservation center of the capital’s herbal history and the second oldest in the country. The exotic vegetation of this space is distinguishable primarily because of small and spontaneous archives of tropical jungle such as the Faustino Miranda Greenhouse, where the intertwining trees resembling labirynths pointing at the sky are outstanding. 

In another part of the garden there are extremely tall cacti, and surrounding a small pond which hosts turtles and fish, some which are extremely lush. This is one of the most marvelous and best places to read or even meditate. 


Immortalized hermetic gods

Dioses CU

In addition to its wonderful architecture, UNAM hides holy sculptures whose meanings lie in a book of secrets. Tlaloc, the god of rain is immortalized in the peak of the Central Library’s mural , representing the fertility of wisdom in every single one of the university’s students. In the chemistry campus, we find the effigy of a golden owl, representing the faculty with an elegant metaphor about alchemy as the source of metamorphosis and witchcraft. 

In the Sciences Department, the mythical figure of Prometheus is displayed in front of the Amoxcalli Library.According to legend, he disobeyed the gods by giving humans the wisdom of the arts and the fire of knowledge, an act that represents Freedom from making use of reason, the symbol of scientific knowledge and the union of the different departments. 

Nezahualcoyotl, considered a sensitive poet from Pre-Columbian times, is immortalized in an abstract manner, in the concert chamber named after him. The enclosure was mainly created to achieve a tenuous acoustics during orchestral co


Precious stones on the O’Gorman mosaic

Mosaico OGorman

The origin story of sciences and humanities is represented in the Central Library’s chimeric mosaic. For once, let’s not delve into the transcendental meaning of the work, focusing our attention on the minute details of the fragments that make it up. To create this pictorial work, Juan O’Gorman decided to make a massive recollection of the most colorful stones in the country, so that all the minerals used in the piece are natural and hence, with the passing of the years, the mural has not lost a hint of color –which is 100% native to the land from whence it was picked. 


The wooden tunnel leading to the treasure room

tunel biblioteca central

The treasure room at the National Library (which is not to be confused with the Central library), features a fund reserved for important books published in 15th century Europe. In order to enter, you must first pass through a huge wooden tunnel that symbolizes the communication between two foreign, dimensions that seek a mystical connection, in this case, between the reader and enigmatic knowledge. 


Micro-solar system in Universum’s concourse


One of the first science museums in Latin-American is home to a vast quantity of unmissable curiosities. However, there is one in particular that might be the smallest and is nevertheless one of the most allegorically emblematic. The concourse in front of the main door features an engrained representation of the solar system in its outlines. Pluto’s space is now empty, removed after it was discovered it was not in fact a planet. At the end of this astral symbol is a discrete labyrinth that represents the endlessness of the Universe and the irony of its immensity in spite of the representations miniature scale. 

The peculiarities of the mythical spaces that make up CU are unique in the world; they also work as an excellent reflection of Mexican formation and a wonderful opportunity to sensitize us to the secrets behind the greatest house of studies in the capital, the perpetual home for thousands of its graduates.

Author’s twitter: @surrealindeath

ILUMINA, an alien-like sculpture of light and sound that shines with emotions
ILUMINA is an art piece where technology, design, light and sound invites us to experience the ways in which we are all connected to the cosmos.

ILUMINA is an interactive sculpture of light and sound fed by the collective energy of people’s hearts.


Art and technology are two faces of human creativity, two that are also closely related, despite the differences they apparently have with each other. What art does on many occasions has been achieved thanks to a specific technical development, a technology whose existence allows the artists to enhance or limit their creative work. Yes, it conditions it, but possibly also encourages it to transcend those limitations.

In this sense, the relationship between one and another human activities could be found in virtually any era, but it is certainly in recent times when technology has a presence, so persistent, somehow so inescapable, that art has been benefited for incorporating it. Both as a resource, an instrument, as part of the examination of contemporary reality, when many of our practices and interactions almost necessarily pass through a technological device.

Thus, somehow the ideal professed by Nietzsche on the need to transform life in a work of art, but this time through art and technology. Somehow the aesthetic sensibility, the discovery of the admirable or the frankly beautiful that any of us can perceive, finds a vehicle, a means of transmission and expression in how art can be magnified through technology.




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Nowadays, it is becoming more and more complex to achieve high levels of consciousness, and to create a community without being outside of technology, but ww can use it as a tool to improve our sensitive abilities. To the same extent that we depend on technology to survive, it has become part of our lives, even in its most spiritual and even transcendental recesses. Art, now more than ever, demands to be a vehicle to explore different states that bring us closer to the dimensions of the infinite

Ilumina is an installation created by the artist Pablo Gonzalez Vargas, who through a deep exploration with the power of interconnectivity, proposes a method to improve the energy field of the planet. Pablo Gonzalez created a majestic interactive sculpture of light and sound that is activated by the emotional states of people, generating a beautiful light show and a sound landscape where the participants enter a state of coherence and deep harmony with themselves and with each other.






Ilumina is a metallic art monument, completed with aluminum and LED lights that together form an architectural piece full of harmony. The piece of art combines technology with a design of ancient wisdom. Ilumina has a program that responds to external stimuli, being able to shine more while more “coherent” is the group that hosts, generating a unique shared experience.

Ilumina is a chilling visual experience, and the volunteers who participate in the exercise of meditative immersion that lasts three minutes, are transported to a state of coherence and deep harmony with themselves, with their fellow participants and with the cosmos through a patented fusion of modern technology and transpersonal art.



The biometric sensors are connected to the ear lobes of each participant, which measures their unique state of coherence and averages them together. This is how lighting design and moving soundscapes respond to a unique algorithm, a product of HeartMath that uses biometric sensors for personal self-training in the regulation of emotional states where the sculpture becomes brighter to the extent that the users experiment with their emotions.

The team that created Ilumina included about 20 people from different disciplines and contributions. There was a large industrial design team that shaped the exact model that was taken to manufacturing. Marco Kalach worked with an expert manufacturing workshop, because as it is a public use facility in particular events, it had to comply with all the rules, structural regulations and with protection codes. The executive producer of the project was Gaby Vargas, who was responsible for the expertise at HeartMath, and joined by mexican musicians and audio engineers to make the experience of 360 degrees of immersive sound, led by Billy Mendez. The lighting team, directed by Paolo Montiel, coordinated all the programming and lighting design that makes symbiosis with the audio.


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It was at Burning Man 2012, where Pablo Gonzalez Vargas created an art car called Mayan Warrior: a luminescence project and a spectacular audio show featuring pieces by the artist Alex Gray and musical performances by elite artists from Mexico and around the world.

In the penultimate edition of Burning Man, Pablo Gonzalez and his team decided to go a step beyond the great proposal that is Mayan Warrior, by presenting Ilumina, this piece of sacred geometry that radiates not only light but an algorithmic sacrality, it’s as mystical and hypnotic as an art piece can get. The tower of almost 12 meters high illuminated the Nevada desert at the Burning Man Festival 2017, and users managed to enter a mental state full of concentration characterized by a complete absorption, a wonderful moment of loss of the notion of spacetime.






It is expected that later there will be replicas of these sculptures, so that they can reach new locations around the world, and we can experience this amazing spectacle of light and the soundscape that connects us with the profound mysticism that exists in ourselves and that highlights the interconnectivity of our planet with the global energy fields.

Here are some photos of this beautiful project, in which lies the probability of a coherent and luminous future that would be worth living.


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Burning Man 2017


If you want to know more about this beautiful project or about the creative artist and allies that integrate it, visit their social media channels:


Ilumina Art Installation

Sitio web //  Facebook //  Instagram


The Five Most Beautiful Mexico City Libraries
For budget travelers, Mexico City libraries were always among the most attractive, free attractions to visit. Today, they're simply too inviting to pass up.
Mexico City Libraries

Chilangos may cherish their reputation for never reading, but Mexico City libraries present a very contrary picture. 

Though the internet makes lots more information available to lots more people, Mexico City libraries have simply not been supplanted. Charged with continually re-inventing themselves, and their places in the public imagination, one can still encounter eras gone by and great historical minds in a library as in few other places.

Knowledge, after all, belongs to everyone. Opening a book, reading it at a study, or just meeting in the silence of one these Mexico City libraries enhances concentration, and provides a welcome respite from everything going on out there in the world. 

Of all Mexico City libraries, the oldest were part of the church and one or another of its offshoot organizations. Among these was the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, founded in the 1530s and surviving today as the Biblioteca José María Lafragua. Most of these ecclesiastical libraries were not truly open to the public, and Mexico had to wait for the  National Library of Mexico, inaugurated by Benito Juárez in 1867 to enjoy the benefits of a truly public library system.

The list below is intended to let you enjoy some of that system, too. 

José Vasconcelos Library

Mexico City Libraries

Opened just ten years ago, in 2006, the Vasconcelos is visited by thousands for the sheer spectacle of its innovative design. Graced by the iconic whale from artist, Gabriel Orozco, it’s always a good library for art and visual spectacle. The facade retains something of a colonial appearance, but for sheer scale, and jaw-dropping space, the interior must be experienced.

Address: Eje 1 Norte Mosqueta S / N, Buenavista


UNAM Central Library 

Mexico City Libraries

We’ve written a lot about it in these pages, but the UNAM library with the Juan O’Gorman murals remains one of the most outstanding of all Mexico City libraries. As a UNESCO site with some 428,000 volumes in the collection, it’s the biggest in Mexico, but lots of folks visit just to see the facade and the surrounding grounds. 

Address: Circuito Interior S / N, Coyoacán, Ciudad Universitaria


National Library of Mexico


Opened by Benito Juárez in 1867, there’s still a good one million books inside, today administered by the folks from UNAM. Originally located in the San Agustín church in the city center, the current building was opened in 1979. Geometric, and massive, it’s an extraordinary place to visit.

Address: Av. Universidad 3000, Coyocacan


Miguel Lerdo de Tejada Library


Specializing in economic materials, this collection of some 86,350 books and 114,852 journals is administered by the Secretary of Finance and Public Credit. Founded in 1928, it’s one of the cities true public art spectacles. Inside the main nave of the old Oratory of San Felipe Neri “El Nuevo,” the baroque façade outside is just the beginning. Inside, the murals are futuristic, and not to be missed.

Address: Av. República de el Salvador 49, Centro Histórico, col. Centro Histórico


Library of Congress of the Union


One of Centro’s truly outstanding historical buildings, for centuries it was the convent of the Clarisas from the 16th century. Today it’s something like a “Library of Congress” with a stunning collection of publications and artifacts, but also with a lush, deep, dark intellectual interior, that beckons from centuries past. 

Address: Tacuba 29, Centro Histórico

Photographs this page: Flickr – Creative Commons