Mexico City

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México City is...

the capital of México, very old, the worlds largest city, the financial, political and cultural center of México, the nightlife capital of México, one of the worlds great cities, huge, one of the world's most difficult cities to drive in, filled with exciting things to see and do, sinking, an energetic metropolis or just an incredible place to visit. 

The correct answer is...All of the above!

México City is definitely all of the above...and much, much more.  This is truly one of the most interesting and diverse cities in the world.  México City holds many pleasant surprises for those who choose to vacation here. Travelers to México often overlook this city because most of the country's tourism promotion is directed toward Mexican beach resorts.

México City should be on your "Must Visit" list if you are a fan of world-class museums, archeological treasures, international cuisine, incredible shopping experiences, stately mansions, colonial neighborhoods, dazzling nightlife, inviting plazas and gardens or great city parks.  The National Museum of Anthropology is one on the world's great museums, and could easily occupy a short vacation by itself.

Don't let the sheer size of México City scare you, most tourists will most likely confine their visits to three or four well defined areas of the city and maybe some easy side trips.  Depending on where you stay, many attractions will be just a short distance away and those that are not so close can be reached fairly easily.  A great way to get a feeling for the city is to enjoy drinks or dinner from the 45th floor of the World Trade Center.  Bellini is a revolving restaurant that offers stunning views of the whole city.  If possible, get settled in before sunset.

Organized tours, taxis, city buses or the modern subway system (during off peak hours) should be considered over attempting to drive in this city.  (See: Practical Advice)  The traffic here is legendary, and for very good reason.  For side trips to the nearby colonial towns or archeological sites a rental car is fine, as the highways and toll roads surrounding the capital offer pleasant driving conditions.

México City, now  the center of, business, culture and  government for the country, was once the center of the entire Aztec empire.  The current Zócalo, or town square, is built on the same spot where once stood Montezuma's palace.  Many of the old mansions and public buildings in the area were built hundreds of years ago using the stones from the Aztec temples that were destroyed by the Spaniards.  The Zócalo is Latin America's largest main square at over 13 acres.  Despite it's size, the zócalo tends to get crowded in the evenings and on weekends. 

Monuments, parks, fountains and great tree lined avenues are everywhere you are likely to visit within the city. Skyscrapers sit beside splendid examples of colonial architecture, archeological sites share space with modern day structures and freeways lead to charming neighborhoods of colonial buildings and peaceful plazas.  Museums are around just about every corner and the rich heritage of México's colonial past is evident almost everywhere.  There are many places, within México City,  to escape the fast pace of the city and where you will feel like you are in a different world within a few minutes time. 

Paseo de la Reforma, the city's main thoroughfare, will give you an immediate idea of why México City has been referred to as the "Manhattan" of Latin America.  This elegant boulevard is lined with dozens of magnificent monuments including the much-photographed Independence Monument, which has become the unofficial trademark of México City. Sharing the precious space along Paseo de la Reforma are modern high-rise office buildings, embassies, luxury hotels, colonial mansions, more monuments and shaded pedestrian promenades.

Chapultepec Park is an enormous green area in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of this fast paced city.  This park is the city's largest, covering over 2000 acres, and it contains enough of the city's attractions, including three of the most important museums, that a short vacation could easily be devoted just to the attractions within the park. 

Alameda Park, near the zócalo and Palace of Fine Arts, has been around since1541, making it the city's oldest park. The park has also been an Aztec market and was also the site of burnings, hangings and executions in the old days.  With it's walking paths, numerous fountains and a Moorish kiosk, this park is full of, old style, traditional charm.  This refreshing oasis is a great place to rest or relax and enjoy some green space for a while, if you are walking near the historic center.  There are also a couple of monuments here that are, themselves, worthy of a visit. On weekends there are often salsa or rock bands playing, an excellent Sunday puppet theatre for the kids is often active around noon.  Many interesting colonial style buildings and museums surround this park.

The neighborhoods, or colonias, of Centro Histórico, Zona Rosa, Polanco, Roma, Condesa and Lomas de Chapultepec are all fairly close each other and also to Paseo de la Reforma. These are the principal areas in the central part of the city that are most popular with tourists.  In the southern part of the city the suburbs of San Angel and Coyoacan along with the Floating gardens of Xochimilco are places you should definitely visit during your stay.

México City is a great vacation destination for the entire family.  There is something interesting and entertaining for everyone.  For those seeking a taste of authentic Mexican culture there is more than enough to keep you occupied for the entire length of your vacation.  A vacation here, combined with a couple of short side trips should be just enough to make you wonder when you are going to return and why you haven't visited before.  

México City Historic Center
See also:  Our printable Historic Center map.

The Plaza de la Constitución, more commonly known as the "Zócalo" is a must on any visitor's list of things to do in México City.  This is a great place to get a feel for the areas history and to start your exploration of the city.  Within just a few blocks of the Zócalo, in all directions, are some of the city's finest examples of city history, architecture and art.  More than 1500 buildings in this relatively small area of the city have been declared historic or artistic monuments. 

The Zócalo once contained the pyramids and palaces of Moctezuma and was the exact center of the Aztec empire.  To this day the it is center of much activity and the very heartbeat of México City.  It is here that the country celebrates it independence with the "El Grito" on September 15th, every year.  The Zócalo is the second largest  public plaza in the world (only Red Square in Moscow is bigger), covering over 13 acres. 

We took a Mexico City day trip from the hotel. I took the following pictures during the trip. The tour took us all over the city. I particularly enjoyed the Museum of Anthropology. I was full of ruins from Mayan civilization. I had no idea that Mexico City was built on a lake and the whole city is sinking!!. It was sad to see that all the historical buildings are either tilting or sinking. Pisa, Italy just have one leaning tower of Pisa. Mexico City is full of leaning buildings.

Museo Nacional de Antropología...Extensive collection of artifacts, spanning some 100,000 square feet.  This is one of the finest anthropological museums anywhere in the world and certainly the most important in México. The ground floor focuses on the native cultures and societies of México before the Spanish conquest. The famous Aztec sun stone is displayed among the extraordinary collection of artwork from the indigenous population. The museum also provides information about how the descendents of these cultures live today. Location: Chapultepec Park - Sec.1. Telephone# 5553-1902

 

Palace of Fine Arts:

 

Palacio Nacional: Hernán Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico, built this government palace on the site of Moctezuma's residence. The Palacio Nacional that we see today dates back to 1693, although a floor was added in the 1920s. Inside there is a wonderful collection of murals by Diego Rivera. The most famous one is the "Epic of the Mexican People in their Struggle for Freedom and Independence", where two thousand years of history are condensed into the space of an enormous wall. The palace also houses a small museum dedicated to Benito Juárez and the Mexican Congress. Admission: Free

 

 
Travel Tips
  • Carry Tripod...You are not allowed to Flash Photograph in many places and your picture would come blurry if you don't use tripod.
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This page was last updated on Tuesday June 05, 2007

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