The park’s outstanding attraction – for many people the main justification for visiting the city at all – is the Museo Nacional de Antropología (wwww.mna.inah.gob.mx), one of the world’s great museums, not only for its collection, which is vast, rich and diverse, but also for the originality and practicality of its design. Opened in 1964, the exhibition halls surround a patio with a small pond and a vast, square concrete umbrella supported by a single slender pillar around which splashes an artificial cascade. The halls are ringed by gardens, many of which contain outdoor exhibits. If you’re rushed, the whole thing can be taken in on one visit, but it is far more satisfactory to spread your visit over two days. The museum can get rather crowded on Sundays when admission is free – it can be worth it to pay the entrance fee and come during the week.
The entrance from Reforma is marked by a colossal statue of the rain god Tlaloc – the story goes that its move here from its original home in the east of the city was accompanied by furious downpours in the midst of a drought. Just east of the museum is a large open plaza, at one end of which is a small clearing pierced by a twenty-metre pole from which voladores “fly”. This Totonac ceremony is performed several times a day, and loses a lot of its appeal through its commercial nature – an assistant canvasses the crowd for donations as they perform – but it is still an impressive spectacle.