Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world and with much to offer. Either staying in a one of the hotels near Mexico City airport, downtown, or in one of the various neighborhoods – there is much to see in every direction. With a history of almost 700 years, long before the Spanish conquest, it’s reflected, not only in the content of the city itself and its architecture, but in the heritage of its people, culture, and mixture that has taken place over the past centuries.
The Passage of Time in the Historic Center
Downtown Mexico City is the seat of the government for the city and the country. This area is the perfect reflection of the history of the city, visible in the very mixture of architecture in the area.
In the Zocalo, the main square, the president’s offices, and the Metropolitan Cathedral are located to the north and east. In this plaza of 46,800 square meters (more than 500,000 square feet) stands one of the most important flags of the city. One block behind the Cathedral is the Templo Mayor, an archeological site with ancient pyramid buildings and constructions. This Mexica religious center was one of the main headquarters of this civilization and can still be visited along with the museum on site.
There is also modern architecture in the Torre Latinoamericana, the tallest building in the city between 1956 and 1972, while in front of it, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, a museum, cultural center, and opera house, was built in art nouveau on the outside and art deco on the inside.
A Castle in the City
Located within the city’s largest recreational park, an unexpected spot awaits. As if it were a fairytale town, Chapultepec Castle is located on a small hill in the middle of the city. Reforma Avenue, where the Angel of Independence, the Diana fountain roundabout, and Chapultepec Park (the fifth largest urban park in the world) are located, is where Chapultepec Castle is found. It holds the National Museum of History and was built as a place of recreation for the Spanish kings who visited the city during the colonial period. Later it was the residence of some governors, and today it can be visited along with the museum, learning about the history of the area.
The food in Mexico City is one of the main reasons to visit. Among the main dishes are gorditas (tortilla dough filled with different ingredients), sopes, quesadillas, and different types of tacos. Tacos al pastor are the main specialty and can be found in almost any Mexican restaurant, and even in street stands. Tamales were not created in Mexico City, however, in some places on the street they are eaten on a bun as a torta de tamal (a type of tamal sandwich). Tasting the different local restaurants will always be an unforgettable experience.
The Second City in the World with the most Museums
Not only is the quantity of museums important, but also their variety. The most recommended are the National Museum of Anthropology and the Tamayo Museum located on Reforma Avenue. One of archaeological artifacts and history, and the other of modern art, both with important artworks of different styles and periods.
The Museum of Memory and Tolerance, located in the downtown area, exhibits on the genocides that have occurred throughout the history of mankind, and the importance of tolerance among the people of the world. On another note, admirers of Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera, must visit the House of Frida and Diego in Altavista, where they lived together in separate houses and La Casa Azul (Frida Khalo Museum) in Coyoacan, where most of Khalo’s works are found.
Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Basilica of Guadalupe is at the foot of Tepeyac hill in the east of the city. The complex in which it is located is full of different chapels, including the old Basilica. The new basilica was built in 1974, due to the number of visitors it gets every year. A round building specifically made so the image of the virgin could be seen from anywhere inside, it is the most visited temple in the world after St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.
Lucha Libre and Mariachi
Culture in Mexico City extends into the night at Arena Mexico or Plaza Garibaldi. Lucha Libre is a popular spectacle of folklore and professional wrestling. The best place to appreciate it is at Arena Mexico, while at Plaza Garibaldi you can go to hear Mariachi singing for a Mexican night with typical food and tequila. Both were named intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.
Although the whole city is full of relevant places, downtown Coyocan is where much of the city’s culture can be summed up. Crafts, markets, typical food, and street performers from all over the world, make this is a great place to visit. After eating at the market one can walk through its colonial streets and visit the different stores and stalls selling toys and local crafts.