Museums seem to be one of the best bets for rooftop terraces with great views of their cities. At Mexico City’s Museo del Estanquillo, climbing past the last floor rewards visitors with great open views of the surroundings.
The Museo del Estanquillo (“estanquillo” is a term used to refer to small shops, similar to a sundries store or a modern-day convenience store or bodega) houses the personal collections of well-known writer and Mexico City chronicler Carlos Monsiváis. The Museum was inaugurated in 2006, four years before Monsiváis’s death. Its rooftop terrace now hosts the cafeteria as well as an additional small gift shop and occasional events. While there a few views similar to what this terrace offers, El Estanquillo’s stands apart as, unlike terraces along Madero Street that belong to bars and restaurants, it is free of charge.
From it, visitors can appreciate the eclectic Mexico City Centro architecture. The Neoclassical Old La Mexicana Insurance Building, contemporary of La Esmeralda, dominates the view across Madero. On the opposite corner, you can admire the Colonial towers of the 18th-century San Felipe Neri church, also known as La Profesa. But perhaps the most interesting view from this terrace is the one directly below.
Madero Street constitutes one of the city’s best people-watching spots. From here, the sheer volume, chaos, and scale of one of the world’s most populated metropolitan areas is evident. Madero often plays hosts to street performers, people in mascot suits, and cosplay posing for paid pictures, all manner of salespeople and just a large number of people. All of this can be observed at leisure from the relative calm of this rooftop.
The building La Esmeralda, where the Museum is based, is worthy of note as well. La Esmeralda was built in the 1890s with a design by the architects Eleuterio Méndez and J. Francisco Serrano. Originally housing the eponymous La Esmeralda jewelry, the building represent the turn-of-the-century, French-influenced style popular in Mexico during the Porfiriato period. Before housing the Estanquillo Museum, this building also played host to a bank, government offices and a nightclub. This historic architectural heritage is evident in the terrace itself, specially in its surrounding wrought-iron Art Nouveau fencing, a clear connection with the French influence of its times.