Headed to Mexico City on vacation? Lucky, lucky you. There are enough things to see and do in the capital to fill ten trips. Whether your interest is fine dining, historic architecture, or stellar entertainment you’ll be tempted to stay a year just to see them all.
No trip to Mexico City would be complete without a leisurely stroll around Zocalo, one of the largest public squares on the planet. And, considering the ones in Rome, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere, that’s some claim.
Visit the plaza near sunset and watch the soldiers march out of the Palacio Nacional (National Palace) to take down the huge national flag flying aloft in the square. Visit in winter and enjoy the enormous skating rink. Visit some of the nearby churches large and small to see fascinating architecture. Go underground inside Zocalo Station and see a treasure trove of artifacts from Mexico’s past.
This would be a great time to spend time in and around the nearby Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral). If you thought Italy or France were the only places with impressive churches, think again.
The facade is a combination of Baroque and Neo-Classical influences and produces an ethereal light within. Enter through the doors carved in 1659 to the building that was essentially completed in 1813. The passage of those 150 years is demonstrated throughout, in the giant cupola and dozens of smaller touches.
Now, continue soaking up art at the Palacio Bellas Artes. While not technically an art museum (it is the local Opera House, and the Ballet Folklorico perform here) the Beaux-Arts exterior is itself a work of art. Imported white Carrara marble gives it a classical sheen, but the architecture is a blend of styles.
The actual art ‘museum’ is inside the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes. The exterior is early 20th century Art Nouveau, the interior is Art Deco straight from the 1930s. This, too, isn’t an art museum in the usual sense but both the building and the traveling exhibitions make it one. Among the permanent art on display are the many murals by famed artists Diego Rivera, and others.
For more of Diego Rivera’s work, take some time to see the Palacio Nacional. The building is the official residence of the president of Mexico and offers tours. It overlooks Zocalo. There is also a beautiful fountain and a large garden.
Anyone who loves to see any zoo a great city has to offer should spend a couple of hours at the Parque Zoologico de Chapultepec. Opened in the 1920s, it houses animals that one is unlikely to see elsewhere, including a pair of Russian Pandas. The grounds are well kept and the exhibits show that the inhabitants are well cared for.
To get a taste of the ancient ruins that dot Mexico’s landscape, visit the Museo del Templo Mayor. Both the interior and exterior provide samples of partially excavated ruins in progress. The main attraction is ‘The Great Temple’, viewed on a walking tour that is informative and fun.
Visit Mexico City and see why it ranks among the great cities of the world.