One of Mexico’s many wonders are its handicrafts. Genuine works of handmade art abound in Mexico, but you need to know where to look because not all products are high quality.
In Mexico City, I recommend three places to buy the best crafts.
The first option is La Ciudadela market. A visit there can turn out to be a truly unique experience. Each aisle is lined with colorful stalls selling products of all sizes, designs and materials. You’ll find carved wood masks, elaborate beadwork, heart-shaped metalwork, hand-blown glass pitchers, ceramic suns and moons, and many other items hailing from various Mexican states. For a closer look at the elaboration process, you’ll also find workshops where artisans reveal everything you want to know about their craft.
A must-visit is the Fonda Nacional Para el Fomento de las Artesanias (Fonart), which has five crafts stores. The government-run outfit support artisans through fair trade practices. Visit the store on Avenida Reforma, where they have some of the most beautiful and detailed crafts from the country’s best artisans, including trees of life from the State of Mexico; wood alebrijes (fantastic creature sculptures) from San Martin Tilcajete, Oaxaca; ceramic skulls and skeleton figures from Capula, Michoacan; shawls from Santa Maria del Rio, San Luis Potosi; and the list of lovely items goes on.
Some museums in Mexico City have their own crafts stores – the best is at the Museo de Arte Popular (Museum of Popular Art, aka MAP). Here you can enjoy checking out items made of cardboard, metal, textiles and even jewelry. And there’s more: the cultural center also supports works of local designers, who make pieces that combine traditional art with symbols of Mexican pop culture, such as objects emblazoned with images of the Virgin of Guadalupe or important wrestling figures like El Santo and Blue Demon. In addition to the great shopping, you must tour the museum to see some of Mexico’s most outstanding crafts on display in permanent and temporary exhibits.
Mercado de la Ciudadela (Ciudadela Market): On corner of Avenida Balderas and Dondé, Plaza de la Ciudadela, Colonia Centro; open 9am-7pm Monday to Saturday, 9am-6pm on Sunday; Tel. 5510-1828; www.laciudadela.com.mx
Fondo Nacional Para el Fomento de las Artesanias (Fonart), Avenida Reforma branch: Avenida Paseo de la Reforma 116, Colonia Juarez; open 10am-7pm Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday; Tel. 5546-7163; email email@example.com; Twitter @Fonart_mx; Facebook artesanias.fonart; turibus riders receive a special discount by presenting a turibus brochure with a Fonart ad.