The capital of Mexico is diverse and amazing. The number of attractions in Mexico City is almost equal to Rome, and their age is reverent. The population reached the 9 million mark. and continues to grow, second only to Tokyo in the number of inhabitants. The city can be called a tourist paradise. Every vacationer finds an inexhaustible source of experience, visiting museums, examining ancient ruins and preserved fragments of cities, walking the old streets, having fun in clubs and parks.
Many people, when looking for a place to travel, choose something exotic. Today there are many countries and cities that are ready to surprise both beginners and experienced tourists. For example, you can see the sights of Mexico City. The capital of Mexico is happy to welcome visitors from all over the world. You should definitely spend your vacation here, because these places have a rich history, which is worth getting to know.
History and Geography of Mexico City
As befits a capital, it is located almost in the center of the country, on the site of the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. The city’s size, orderly structure, and beauty captivated everyone who entered its confines. This was the case until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors led by Hernan Cortez. He did not marvel at the architectural design and rationality of the inhabitants, who built canals, levees and drawbridges, and a system of manmade storage facilities. The Spaniards sought conquest, sought new territories, and greedily gathered rumors of the utopian golden city of El Dorado.
The warlike Aztec people could not immediately recognize the threat posed by outsiders. They were let down by the belief in the legend that the departed god Quetzalcoatl should return to them in the form of a light-skinned bearded man. After a short time, a conflict arose that turned into an armed clash. The Spaniards retreated, only to return with renewed vigor and victory, declaring the city their territory.
The Spanish city of Mexico City was founded in 1521 on the site of the ancient Aztec capital. In the early 19th century a movement for independence from the Spanish colonizers began, culminating in the recognition of Mexico as an independent state. Mexico City became its capital.
It is located in an elevated area of weak seismic activity. Occasionally small fluctuations occur, but no one has paid much attention to them for a long time. Ancient buildings can withstand small earthquakes very well, and modern buildings are designed to be seismically stable.
Temperatures are between 20 and 28°C most of the year, sunny weather prevails, and dust storms are not uncommon in the summer.
In Mexico City the tourist season lasts all year round, with more rain in winter and the thermometer rises to the +30 mark in summer, but without high humidity the heat is easily tolerated.
Excursion trips are held regularly as groups are formed.
Top 15 attractions in Mexico City
Even a month is not enough to visit all the interesting places. Only ancient buildings in the city more than a thousand and a half, about 100 museums, 10 archaeological parks. A list of Mexico City attractions with descriptions and photos can be obtained at any tourist office or found on the Internet. To spend time usefully and do all that is planned, it is worth to determine what you would like to visit and what you want to keep in reserve.
Historic Center of Mexico City
The center of the area is the Socalo Square and the surrounding neighborhoods. There are 1,550 buildings built between the 16th and 20th centuries. It is under the protection of UNESCO, belongs to the historical monuments and preserves the history of the emergence and development of the city from its founding to the present day. There are museums, exhibition halls, and most of the attractions on and near the square.
More often the name sounds like “Socalo Square” is considered the geographical center of the country. It is almost as old as the city itself. The first stone, according to legend, was laid by E. Cortez after defeating the Aztecs. The square was originally made up of the ruins of ancient temples, palaces and religious buildings.
At the eastern end of the square is the National Palace, where the offices of the president and administration are located. Nearby stands the Cathedral, and to the east are the ruins of an ancient Aztec temple. During the restoration, artifacts were found in the strata of the earth and secret rooms of the lower levels and given to the collection of the city museum.
The center of the square is marked by a flagpole with the national flag. On national holidays, Socalo Square hosts their official part.
A picturesque oasis in the city center beckons with coolness and shady alleys. It is hard to believe that it is over 400 years old, it is recognized as the oldest park in the country. The park owes its origin to Viceroy Marques de Croix, who ordered the expansion of the original green area by taking over El Camadero Square, where in the Middle Ages the Inquisition executed heretics and people accused of witchcraft.
The Emiciclo a Juárez, a monument to Benito Juárez, serves as a symbolic entrance to the park. The most interesting objects in the park are:
- Virgin Fountain;
- geyser Hidalgo;
- Mercury Fountain;
- sculpture by Alexander von Humboldt;
- A monument to Ludwig van Beethoven.
A walk through the park is not only pleasant, but also extremely educational.
Paseo de la Reforma
The main street of the city is so named in honor of the political and social transformation of Benito Juárez. The image of the most famous streets of Europe served as an example for the project. The construction was completed in the second half of the 19th century, and since then the street has become a favorite place for walks and visits by tourists.
Along the avenue you can see the Independence Monument. It is tiered, on top of a sculpture called the golden angel, at the foot – 4 symbolic figures of the goddesses, the base is a powerful quadrangular pedestal.
It is interesting to look at the fountain of Diana the Huntress and climb to the observation deck of the Torre Major Tower, which is known for its seismic resistance, withstanding vibrations up to 8.5 points.
During the walk it is nice to look at the small cozy restaurants and souvenir shops, many located in the basement of houses.
National Museum of Anthropology
The main part of the exposition is devoted to discoveries made during excavations and restorations of ancient monuments of the Aztecs, Maya cities and other disappeared civilizations. Gold figurines, household items, and unidentified fragments that scientists have been arguing about for years are an incomplete list of what visitors to the Museum of Anthropology seek to see in Mexico City.
Every year 2 million people come to its halls. man. The exhibition is divided into two parts: anthropological on the first floor and ethnographic on the second. The most famous exhibit is the Sun Stone, called the Mayan calendar.
Every Sunday entrance and tours are free for foreign tourists.
One of the oldest temples in the country was founded by Cortez in the 16th century. Symbolically, the walls were built from the stones of ruined Aztec temples. A fine example of colonial architecture, the cathedral attracts many tourists, its convenient location in the center of the city allows guides to include it in sightseeing tours.
The layout of the building includes two towers with bell towers and the middle part, where the chimes are located. The facades are decorated with columns, arches, and sculptures of apostles and saints. The exorbitant luxury of the Renaissance-style interior halls is breathtaking. The walls, floor and even the vaults are made of ivory, marble slabs and decorated with gold. The temple contains 18th-century organs, considered the finest in Mexico.
Palace of Fine Arts
That’s the poetic name of the city’s opera house. It is considered one of the important attractions of Mexico City because it combines not only a magnificent auditorium and a stage where opera and ballet performances take place.
Within the walls of the palace are two museums: the Palace of Architecture and the Palace of Fine Arts. The beauty of the interiors is mesmerizing. Each decorative element is made with love and a fine sense of style. The building was designed by Adamo Boari, combining the best features of European styles. The building is located in the Historical Center of the city.
Plaza Santo Domingo
This place has a rich history. It is known because of the scribes. At the time when these lands belonged to Spain, the city administration demanded documents from the Indians. They could not write themselves, so they used the services of people who could do the job. Of course, today this type of profession is dying out, but even now you can find scribes who type for the illiterate population.
In addition, the main attraction in the square is the Church of Santa Domingo. The first building was built by the end of the 16th century, but it was destroyed. The current structure is the third in a row, and it was already built in the 18th century.
Mexico City has an incredible amount of attractions. This building is one of them. In fact, it is a whole complex, which includes stone staircases, balconies, courtyards, halls, etc. Previously, the palace was home exclusively to the rulers of New Spain. When Mexico gained its independence, the structure came under the influence of the emperors and later became the home of the first president. Today, official political meetings and events are held here. Nevertheless, tourists can easily visit most of the rooms and get into the history of the national palace.
This architectural monument is definitely worth seeing. The Great Temple (so the name is translated) was accidentally discovered in 1978. Before these lands were conquered, the building played the role of the religious center of the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Today there is a museum of the same name. It contains 6,000 exhibits. These are all kinds of jewelry, masks, statuettes and other ancient artifacts. It is also worth noting that the site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is an area of Mexico City that is also considered a UNESCO site. To many tourists it may remind you of Venice, because there are also canals, islands and small boats. Previously, there was a large lake in the valley of the Mexican capital with many branches. The local population began to actively engage in agriculture. They built chinampas (small plots of land): they poured earth on a wooden raft and planted various crops and plants in it.
Over time, it went under water, and the locals built new ones. Gradually, these peculiar “islands” formed entire systems. As a result, the lake was transformed and became a multitude of channels. There are approximately 5,000 chinamps that are still in active use today.
One of the main and scary sights of Sochimilko is the island of abandoned dolls.
Basilica of Mary of Guadalupe
It is the most popular church among Catholics. It contains an image of Mary of Guadalupe. With her help, the Aztec pagans began to change their religion in favor of Christianity. Images of Mexico’s shrine can be seen all over the country, not just in the capital. The place of the temple was not chosen by chance, because this is where, according to legends, first saw the Virgin Mary. The building was built in 1531, and the image of the saint hangs in the most honorable place.
In fact, it is the only royal castle in America that served as the residence of monarchs. Its construction began at the end of the 18th century, but was not completed until 1863, when Mexico gained its independence. The Mexico City landmark is located on a high hill (over 2 km). It was originally a sacred site for the Aztecs, then there was the imperial court, the president’s mansion, and the observatory. Today it is a popular museum.
Chapultepec Park is the largest park in the world. It includes three sections. The former is the most visited, as it has a zoo, various fountains, sculptures and even an amusement park. There are all kinds of museums here: the National Museum of Anthropology (the most famous in the country), the Soumaya Carlos Museum (here you can see works of Pablo Pacasso, Dali, Rivera, etc.), the Museum of Modern Art. Every year this place receives about 15 million visitors.
The Palace of the Inquisition – Museum of Medicine
For a long time this building was the center of the Inquisition, which was officially established in Mexico in the mid-16th century. The goal was to expose the plot of Martin Cortes, who wanted to achieve independence from Spain. The defendants were caught and tortured.
The Inquisition Palace was completed in the first half of the 18th century. Two stories were originally planned, but a third was added a century later. The building contains courtrooms, secret and deliberation rooms, a prison, and rooms where the inquisitors lived. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Inquisition was abolished. It is now home to the Museum of Mexican Medicine.
Entertainment in Mexico City
In addition to visiting museums and historical monuments, you can visit a lot of no less interesting places.
- Go to the Sochimilco area, called the “Venice of Mexico,” and take a pleasure boat ride on the canal.
- Visit the Chapultepec Zoo and learn about rare animals and birds.
- Taste traditional national drinks at the tequila and mescal museum.
- To see the national ballet of Mexico, from which the colorful flashes in the eyes caused by the many colors and luxury of costumes remain for a long time.
- Listen to live music and appreciate the national cuisine in the nightclubs Rioma, Rexo, Zingo.
- Stroll through the souvenir shops and buy ponchos, sombreros, and a bottle of tequila.
- Buy groceries and have a picnic on the emerald grass of the National Park.
To save time and get to your destination faster, you should use the subway. In a city of this population, there are inevitably traffic jams, in which it is possible to lose 2 – 3 hours of precious time. The underground train will not only deliver quickly, but also cheaply. The fare is 3 pesos, which sets an absolute record among subway fares in the world. An extensive network allows you to get to almost any part of the city.
For those who can’t read the names of the stations, they are duplicated by pictures. Each station has its own look, on one wall is painted with stars and galaxy systems, on the other live in wall aquariums turtles, the imagination of the subway staff is inexhaustible, and people are pleased to see the beauty around them.
The amazing and diverse capital of Mexico leaves a rapturous impression on newcomers and seasoned tourists alike.
How to get to Mexico City
The best option is an air flight. It is worth taking a closer look at the different offers, as attractive offers with discounts regularly appear. There is a direct flight, when the plane lands directly in Mexico City, but do not abandon the options to fly through Cuba, flights with a connection in Paris or Amsterdam are advantageous. Flight time is about 13.5 hours, not including transfers.