ATLAS OBSCURA

The Mummies of Mexico City

Being in Mexico City for Holy Week has its advantages. If you’re interested in Catholic rites and rituals you’ll find plenty to do during the solemn holy days leading up to Easter. Some parishes sponsor reenactments of the crucifixion performed with varying degrees of historical accuracy and gore. Others hold funeral processions featuring life-sized effigies of Jesus in glass caskets. In a handful of places you can still find people who burn Judas in the form of papier-mâché devils.

But if you’re interested in traditional tourism or just looking for something to do in between services, you’ll find you’re mostly out of luck. The historic churches are in full mourning. Their best artwork and altarpieces are obscured by purple drapes to emphasize the sadness of these holidays. Many of the city’s excellent museums are closed. The locals are going to church, getting out of town or just enjoying some time off. I was the odd tourist out — wandering around the city on a day when everyone else had somewhere to be.

That’s how I wound up alone with twelve mummies. 

Keep reading Elizabeth Harper’s account of meeting the mummies of Museo de El Carmen, on Atlas Obscura…