President Diaz

President Diaz.

The Private Residence Of President Diaz

The Private Residence Of President Diaz.

The morning after the ball I started out with my companions to see the City of Mexico by daylight, and we drove immediately to the Plaza Mayor, or Great Square, which occupies the centre of the capital. Before us, on one side, rose the cathedral, which from a distance had appeared to be well proportioned, while its fine towers had won our admiration. The site of the building is historic; for, on the spot where now its gilded crosses rise toward heaven, stood formerly the grandest temple of the Montezumas, so that the foundation of this Christian church rests on the broken images of Aztec gods. We climbed to one of its belfries and gazed upon the scene below. Directly at our feet lay the Plaza Mayor, which four hundred years ago was an open space before the Aztec temple.

The Cathedkal

The Cathedkal.

This square was then the nucleus of the city's life and around it were its finest buildings. A Roman would have called it the Aztec Forum. The residence of Montezuma has been replaced, on the same site, by the National Palace, where all the different governments with which poor Mexico has been blessed or cursed, for centuries, have for a time had their headquarters. At present it contains the official apartments of President Diaz and many of the State Departments.

Descending from the belfry we entered the cathedral. Its grand dimensions are imposing, for the vast structure has a length of nearly four hundred feet. Formerly, too, if we can credit what the Spaniards say of it, the richness of its decoration rivaled that of any other in the world; but most of that magnificence has disappeared, and what remains cannot atone for many serious blemishes. Thus, for a church like this to have a wooden floor is painfully incongruous; and stuccoed walls, however large, cannot command our admiration like statue-crowned and exquisitely sculptured stone. Its chapels, it is true, contain a vast amount of gilded ornamentation; but iron gratings tipped with gold-leaf are not to be compared with the elaborately carved woodwork that we see in Spain, or with the balustrades of malachite and porphyry which we find in Russia; while the majority of statues in all Mexican churches are merely plaster, colored as brilliantly as chromos. The hotel in the City of Mexico best known to travelers was formerly the palace of the short-lived Emperor, Iturbide, whose name it bears. It looks palatial still. It has a height rarely attained by Mexican houses; electric lights suspended from the roof give to its shadowy corridors the effect of moonlight; and, most astonishing of all, an elevator (the only one in the republic in 1892) ascends serenely to the upper story. But from these brilliant externals the tourist must not expect too much from the Hotel Iturbide. Its proprietor has not fully recovered from the attack of self-esteem which the acquisition of the elevator gave him. He sits and looks at it, like a mother gazing on her first-born; and as the stewards on a certain line of trans-Atlantic steamers say, "Our table is poor, but we have never lost a life," so the proprietor of the Iturbide blandly answers all complaints by proudly pointing toward his elevator, which, by the way, is allowed to run only between the hours of ten in the morning and ten at night!

The National Palace

The National Palace.

The Chamber Of Deputies

The Chamber Of Deputies.

The Interior Of The Cathedral

The Interior Of The Cathedral.

The Patio Of A Hacienda

The Patio Of A Hacienda.

The agent of an American excursion party once applied to the manager of the Iturbide for accommodations. "How much are these rooms a day?" he asked. "Four dollars each," was the reply. "But," said the agent smiling, "I shall probably bring you eighty people, how much then?" "Five dollars," said the proprietor, yawning; "that will make more trouble."