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Condesa, Mexico City's colourful bohemian quarter

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The first few times you walk or cycle around the colonia of Condesa, it has a way of bewildering you. Firstly, you can't help feeling that you're in some kind of small town which surpises you with its somewhat European-plus-Mexican flavour and its wide leafy streets lined with Art Deco architecture. Surely you can't be in the middle of that mighty megapolis called Mexico City? Something isn't quite right. Its airy pavement cafés, potpurri of ethnic restaurants, thickly vegetated parks, hip boutiques and its air of decadence and distinctly bohemian feel may convince you that DF has its own type of Parisian Latin Quarter.

Secondly, if you find yourself going round and round in circles, don't worry. Calle Amsterdam follows the oval layout of the area's former horse racetrack (Hipodromo in Spanish) which only adds to your confusion. Keep going and you'll eventually land back up where you started. Down the centre of this street runs a leafy, bike-friendly, walkway while the street on either side is flanked by restaurants, cafés and boutiques. Despite this, Condesa is essentially a residential area and definitely one of Mexico City's most charming, character-filled colonias.

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Map showing the oval layout of Calle Amsterdam, former horse racetrack

La Condesa (meaning "Countess" and named after the Countess of Miravalle who owned this land and the former racetrack) dates back to the beginning of the 20th Century, hence the profusion of Art Deco and Art Nouveau-style buildings. It was home to many artistic middle and upper-class residents and foreigners, including Askenazi Jews from Eastern Europe and Spanish refugees fleeing from the Spanish Civil War. In the 1970s, the younger generations began to leave Condesa for other more fashionable areas. The 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, which severely damaged the neighbouring Roma district, hastened the continuing process of abandonment as residents began to move out to more up-market areas like Polanco. With prices falling and attracted by its unusual architecture, a new type of resident moved in: young businessmen, artists, musicians and others. Restaurants began to open, and chairs and tables which were set out on the pavements became an instant success with the city's mild climate. Today, it's a more relaxed community with its own pace of life, featuring the bright colours of Mexico in a bohemian setting. And a lively night life scene.

Central to this district are the two parks, Parque México and Parque España, which are not only the vital lungs of this area but an essential part of its character. In fact, this is probably the colonia with the most trees, the most dogs and maybe even the most eating places. All in all, it's a great place to wander around or have a coffee or meal, with surprises down most streets and some quirky finds waiting to be discovered on most visits. Street art, amusing posters, dogs in stripy jumpers, roundabouts with fountains, ancient vehicles which look as if they haven't been moved since I was born, colour-drenched buildings, original doors and windows with wrought-iron railings... you won't get bored. I would just love to get rid of all the ugly tangles of black spaghetti everywhere, supposedly electric wires, which disfigure the streets and façades and threaten to behead tourists on the open-topped Turibus as it passes through.

Snapshots of Condesa

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Leafy streets

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Bright colours

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One of the many pavement cafés

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Colourful façade

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Tables set outside

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Dog training in Parque México

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Wall art

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Coffee, food, books and live music at El Péndulo

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Typical architectural features

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A man relaxing in Parque México

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Blue and red

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The Green Corner

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Blue is a popular colour

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A fancy doorway

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Life-sized animals climbing up the side of a building

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Crêperie de la Paix with Calvin Klein underwear advert above

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Decorated façade

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Eco-bicis, Mexico City's bike-sharing scheme

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Ducks on the pond

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Car leftover from the last century

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Eye-catching colour scheme

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Exercising in the park

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Purple building in Calle Tampico

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Amusing sign: "Pedestrians have preference... preferably alive, please!"

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A waiter waiting for some customers

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"Anyone for breakfast?"

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Looking inside a café-bar

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Two men in suits by their red VW Beetle

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Lake and fountain in the park

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Adding a touch of colour to a drab building

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Wallace Whisky Bar - with over 500 gallons of whisky in stock!

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Detail of multi-coloured old trolley bus

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Old car outside the Hotel Condesa DF - notice the key to wind it up with!

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Another old Japanese trolley bus converted into a place to eat - with rooftop terrace included! The staircase is made of skateboards and the railings on the top with old bicycles

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Mague pasteleria and café

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Ferns peeping through window railings

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Handwritten sign saying: "Please don't destroy my leaves. They provide the city with oxygen. Thank you."

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Mexican colours

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Vegetarian food

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Still don't know what this large figure is on top of this building

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Ornate windows

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All-blue café

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Cool shady park with water

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Artwork on a house

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Beautiful gardens and flowers

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Different coloured houses

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A bit of grafitti

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Large mansion in Calle Durango

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Sign seen outside a restaurant

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Early morning in Parque México

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Mexican food at La Flautería

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Literary centre

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He won't get bored with so many magazines to read!

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Wide street in Condesa

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A whole building used as an advertisement

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A health food shop

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Interesting sign seen in a shop window

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Boutique in one of the streets

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Bright red building

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Artwork by a petrol station

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Another popular colour combination - red and blue

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Hanging trumpet flowers

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An old delivery truck

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Not walking the dogs, but taking them for a ride

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Relaxing by a fountain

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Iglesia de Santa Rosa de Lima in Condesa

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Priest outside the church

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Nuns at their stall and woman selling artichokes

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Matching colours

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Lombardi restaurant - I suppose the wine bottles are empty?

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"Transform your world
Transform your city
Transform yourself
Don't throw litter."

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Small balcony

Posted by margaretm 05:13 Archived in Mexico

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Comments

The mauve flowering tree in the "Wide Street" is a jacaranda.
Gorgeous photos!

by Marjorie Agoston

Yes, they're all over the city and beginning to flower now. We've even got one in our back garden! Beautiful!

by margaretm

This post is great and the pictures are great! thanks for sharing!

by Bella Foley

beautiful pics...

by himali

Thanks!

by margaretm

They are trying to put old wine in new bottle. Its good and maintained city, but hand to mouth peoples living. Happy life.

by sack69

beautiful, gracias! now i know where to stay when i visit DF this spring. perhaps you could recommend some nice hotels in the area? like, with jacuzzis? :) :) :)

by libelula

That’s really very useful information
I am tour manager from Egypt can i share your post in my website
Mohamed
Tour manager
http://www.egyptlastminute.com

by mohamedmortada

hello,
its realy nice pics.
amazing its very informative post.

thanks for share with us.

praveen
mytravelodotcom

by kumarpraveen

Hi libelula
Yes, the Hotel Condesa Df is one of the best hotels, has lots of options. Or the Red Tree House for a homely feel.... Have fun in DF!

by margaretm

Hi mohamed

Yes, you can share my post on your website....no problem.

by margaretm

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