Santa María la Ribera, Cuauhtémoc, 06400 Mexico City
Stumbling on a beautiful and impressive surprise is delightful for every tourist; it can be a special kind of museum, a charming little restaurant or cozy cafe, or even a serene cobblestone street lined with trees that are in full bloom. The Kiosco Morisco (“Morisco Kiosk”) is one of those such surprises reserved for the curious wandering traveler, it surely is underrated as a landmark of the city even though its beautiful Moorish architecture is quite an eyeful, the kiosk is an architectural masterpiece of an elaborately detailed and richly colored design that sits in contrast to the typical plaza in Santa María de la Ribera, where the landmark is located. The plaza is the Alameda de Santa María de la Ribera in the center of this eclectic neighborhood (which has shown signs of gentrification in the past few years) and is within walking distance, around 4 blocks, from the Metro station “Buenavista”.
The Kiosk was designed by Mexican architect José Ramón Ibarrola as Mexico’s entry for the New Orleans’ International Exposition in 1884 and then the St. Louis, Missouri Fair in 1904, after which it was returned to Mexico and located next to the Alameda Central in downtown before President Porfirio Díaz decided to build the monument to Benito Juárez at that same location, so finally, the Kiosco Morisco found its permanent home at its current location in the Alameda de Santa María de La Ribera. It’s ironic that this kiosk was representative of Mexican culture at those international fairs as its design and construction is typical Islamic, made entirely out of wrought steel and displaying carefully crafted geometric patterns that decorate the 44 external and 8 internal pillars. The kiosk is topped by a glass dome which has an eagle made of bronze sitting at the very top.
The peculiar appearance of the kiosk has inspired many exotic tales and stories such that it was a gift to the city by an Arab sheik or even by the Chinese. Nowadays the kiosk, and the Alameda in general, features a lively atmosphere where musical performances, dance classes, and even tai chi lessons are offered to the public. This underrated landmark of the Santa María de la Ribera neighborhood is one of those locations “off the beaten path” that tourists sometimes are looking for, so it would be worth your while to take a small detour and see this architectural marvel for yourself.