Tucked away into the nooks and crannies of Mexico City you can find a silent pulse of worship, a need for safety in a world where you can’t always be safe. One that goes against the “modern” grain and back to the Catholic base of the Mexican culture, even though most of the younger generation doesn't subscribe, like or follow it.
For many, religion has lost its validity, instead turning to meditation, yoga, or self-care as a form to cleanse. But due to that older generation that keeps on using religion as our “mindfulness” movement, you can find her practically anywhere, from the most elaborate of places to the simplest of tables that are there meant only to hold her up.
She’s always there: “La Virgen María”, the Virgin Mary, guarding the city in her motherly fashion on many sidewalks, taxi stations, local food markets, neighborhoods, gasoline stations, hospitals, restaurants, and even the entrances to the metro. There are so many that they just blend into the background, another part of the Mexican culture that we get accustomed to because, truly, it is very common for us. But there comes a time in all the humdrum that we can stop and literally smell the flowers that are sometimes placed in the altars and appreciate them for their significance in the Mexican culture.
Maybe you don’t believe like I do, and maybe, just maybe she can still give you that inkling of safety when you’re on your way home after a good day’s work (hopefully).
The point of this work was for people to notice that which has become common place. A sort of treasure hunt to find as many as you can or even more than those on the list (there definitely are). Ultimately, it’s an alternate way of getting to know the city through its altars. For those who live here and for those who don´t, everyone can appreciate the altars for their particular secular beauty, that which is subject to the city, time, and those around them.
In case you want to take up the challenge, here are the street names where the pictured altars can be found and the time they were taken since the environment varies according to the time of day:
1. Durango y Veracruz (12:37 pm)
2. Mérida (4:30 pm)
3. Avenida Pendiente Plutarco Eías Calles (5:31 pm)
4. Copilco (12:11 pm)
5. Copilco (12:52 pm)
6. Cerrada Contlalco (1:51 pm)
7. Calle Tres Cruces (4:08 pm)
8. Segunda Cuadrante de San Francisco (4:31 pm)
Written by Isabel González; Pictures by Isabel González.
More photos from Isabel González’s work can be found on Instagram.
Explore Mexico City by foot to snap some of your own altars with Mexico a Pie.