Low Lighting Adds to the Ambiance in Mexican Central Squares

We were in the zocalo of Cuernavaca the other evening, just after dark and I noticed that, in comparison to places in the U.S., the lighting is relatively low for such a large public area. Most of the light is indirect and comes from businesses or the accent lighting on the architecture. The illumination in front of the palacio de Cortez comes from the lights hung by the owners of the individual stands in the silver and crafts market and from the restaurants across the street. There is only one yellowish street light visible from the front of the palacio and the lights in the zocalo itself are soft white globes. The result is a dark twilight that is light enough to move around, but not bright enough to read comfortably. The effect is one of romantic calm.

The first zocalo where I noticed this romantic lighting was in Patzcuaro, Michoacan where the lighting was so dim it made me feel as if I’d gone back in time. The light posts seemed to be the very same ones that had been installed when electricity was first brought to the little town (which may not have been all that long ago). The zocalo in Oaxaca, Oaxaca was also dimly lit when we visited there a couple of years ago.

When combined with a cooling breeze after a hot, sunny day, the low-light ambiance of a Mexican zocalo can be delicious.

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