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Alexander von Humboldt: „Brief Description of the City of Mexico“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <> [abgerufen am 23.07.2024].

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Titel Brief Description of the City of Mexico
Jahr 1817
Ort Washington, District of Columbia
in: Daily National Intelligencer 5:1500 (29. Oktober 1817), S. [2].
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Spaltensatz; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung; Fußnoten mit Asterisken, Kreuzen und Paragraphen.
Textnummer Druckausgabe: II.76
Dateiname: 1809-Voyage_de_MM-22-neu
Seitenanzahl: 1
Spaltenanzahl: 1
Zeichenanzahl: 5511

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|2| |Spaltenumbruch|


Extract from Humboldt’s New Spain.

Mexico has been very much embel-lished since the residence of the Abbe Chappe there in 1769. The edifice des-tined to the school of mines, for which therichest individuals of the country furnish-ed a sum of more than three millionsfrancs, * would adorn the principal placesof Paris or London. Two great palaces[hotels] were recently constructed byMexican artists, pupils of the academy ofFine Arts of the capital. One of thesepalaces, in the quarter della Traspana, exhibits in the interior of the court a verybeautiful oval perystyle, of coupled col-umns. The traveller justly admires avast circumference paved with porphyryflags, and enclosed with an iron railing,richly ornamented with bronze, contain-ing an equestrian statue of King Charlesthe Fourth, placed on a pedestal of Mexi-can marble, in the midst of the Plaza Ma-jor of Mexico, opposite the cathedral andthe viceroy’s palace. However, it mustbe agreed, that notwithstanding the pro-gress of the arts within these last thirtyyears, it is much less from the grandeurand beauty of the monuments, than fromthe breadth & straightness of the streets,and much less from its edifices than fromits uniform regularity, its extent and po-sition, that the capital of New Spain at-tracts the admiration of Europeans. Froma singular concurrence of circumstances,I have seen successivly, within a veryshort space of time, Lima, Mexico, Phi-ladelphia, Washington, Paris, Rome, Na-ples, and the largest cities of Germany.By comparing together impressionswhich follow in rapid succession, we areenabled to rectify any opinion which wemay have too easily adopted. Notwith-standing such unavoidable comparisons,of which several, one would think, musthave proved disadvantageous to the ca-pital of Mexico, it has left in me a re-collection of grandeur which I principal-ly attribute to the majestic character ofits situation and the surrounding scenery. In fact, nothing can present a morerich and varied appearance than the val-ley, when, in a fine summer morning,the sky without a cloud, and of thatdeep azure which is peculiar to the dryand rarefied air of high mountains, wetransport ourselves to the top of one ofthe towers of the cathedral of Mexico, orascend the hill of Chapoltepec. A beauti-ful vegetation surrounds this hill. Oldcypress trunks§ of more than 15 and 16metres in circumference, raise their na-ked head above those of the Schinus,which resemble in their appearance theweeping willows of the east. From thecentre of this solitude, the summit of theporphyritical rock of Chapoltepec, theeye sweeps over a vast plain of carefullycultivated fields, which extend to thevery feet of the colossal mountains cov-ered with perpetual snow. The city ap-pears as if washed by the waters of thelake of Tezcuco, whose basin, surround-ed with villages and hamlets, brings tomind the most beautiful lakes of themountains of Switzerland. Large avenuesof elms and poplars lead in every direc-tion to the capital; and two aqueducts,constructed over arches of very great ele-vation, cross the plain, and exhibit an ap-pearance equally agreeable and interest-ing. The magnificent convent of Nues-tra Senora de Guadaloupe, appears joinedto the mountains of Tepeyacac, amongravines, which shelter a few date andyoung yucca trees. Towards the south,the whole tract between San Angel, Ta-cabaya, and San Augustin de las Cuevas,appears an immense garden of orange,peach, apple, cherry, and other Europeanfruit trees. This beautiful cultivationforms a singular contrast with the wildappearance of the naked mountains whichenclose the valley, among which the fa-mous volcanoes of La Puebla, Popocate-petl, and Iztaccihuatl are the most distin-guished. The first of these forms an e-normous cone, of which the crater, con-tinually inflamed and throwing up smokeand ashes, opens in the midst of eternalsnows.

* 124,800l. sterling. Trans. See chap. VII. This colossal statue was executed at theexpence of the Marquis de Branciforte, for-merly viceroy of Mexico, brother-in-law to thePrince of Peace. It weighs 450 quintals, andwas modelled, founded and placed by thesame artist, M. Tolsa, whose name deserves adistinguished place in the history of Spanishsculpture. The merits of this man of geniuscan only be appreciated by those who knowthe difficulties with which the execution ofthese great works of art are attended even incivilized Europe. From the plan of the City of Washington,and from the magnificence of its capitol, ofwhich I only saw a part completed, the FederalCity will undoubtedly one day be a much finercity than Mexico. Philadelphia has also thesame mode of construction. The alleys ofplatanus, acacia, and populous heterophylla,which adorn its streets, almost give it a ruralbeauty. The vegetation of the banks of thePotomac and Delaware is also richer than whatwe find 2,800 metres (7,500 feet) of elevationon the ridge of the Mexican Cordilleras. ButWashington and Philadelphia will always looklike European cities. They will not strike theeyes of the traveller with that peculiar, I maysay, exotic character which belongs to Mexi-co, Santa Fe de Bogata, Quito, and all the tro-pical capitals, constructed at an elevation ashigh or higher than the passage of the greatSt. Bernard.§ Los Ahuahuetes. Cupressus disticha Lin. 49 and 52 feet. Trans.