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Attractions and things to do in Mexico City

The Zócalo or Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Square)

Historic Centre of Mexico City

As you stroll around Mexico City's Historic Centre you will find yourself stepping back in time. It is in the Historic Centre were you will learn about the roots of Mexican culture and all its facets. Known as an UNESCO World Heritage containing 6000 of some of the most important constructions ever built in the country, this unique landmark was the heart of the Aztec Empire. Its most recognised attraction is the Zócalo plaza which is a focal point of the capital and where much happens.

From this plaza, the Historic Centre then extends in all directions for a number of blocks so there is much to see. Join the crowds and spend days here visiting as many hot attractions as you can fit in such as the Templo Mayor, the Nacional Monte de Piedad, Torre Latinoamericana, Museo Nacional de Arte, the Palacio de Bellas Artes or Alameda Central public park. Tour colonial sites, preserved historical buildings, brilliant museums, gardens and large shopping areas then finish of your Mexican experience sampling some local food in a traditional Mexican restaurant. This Historic Centre of Mexico City is a highlight of the capital filled with photo opportunities left, right and centre. To say this landmark is interesting would be an utter understatement. Words simply can't describe what you will discover here. You'll just have to find out for yourself.

 

Zócalo

Dominating the heart of Mexico City's centre is Zócalo, a plaza or square formally known as Plaza de la Constitución. From venders selling what seem pointless bits and bobs to food stalls you will find everything and anything during your tour of the square which will take a whole day if you tour the plaza taking the time it absolutely deserves. This bustling and many times overcrowded landmark brings together politics, architecture, religion, and commerce in a way like no other place in Mexico. For centuries, Zócalo has been a vital location for political campaigns, strikes, festivals, religious events and parades so don't be surprised if something is going on during our time here. Everywhere you turn your head your eyes will fall upon an attraction worth your visit or at least your appreciation. Photo opportunities are immense in this part of the city so don't forget your camera back at the hotel room! To the north of Zócalo is one of Mexico's most triumphant attractions, the Metropolitan Cathedral; to the east is the government's National Palace; the Federal District buildings lie towards the south; the Old Portal de Mercaderes is found in the west; the Nacional Monte de Piedad building occupies the north-west corner, whilst the famous Templo Mayor takes over the northeast side of the plaza. It would be a crime to travel to Mexico City without stopping in this glorious plaza which offers visitors a first-hand experience of the Mexican way of life and its traditions.

 

Metropolitan Cathedral

Mexico is stacked with holy places but if there is one religious monument you must take the time to visit it is the Metropolitan Cathedral in downtown Mexico City in the Plaza de la Constitución. It is an absolute spectacle of beauty and Mexican wealth decorated with gold, precious stones, and paintings. Taking a total of 240 years to be constructed, this Baroque styled cathedral was finally completed in 1813 and is the oldest and largest Roman Catholic Cathedral to be found in the Americas continent. Made of stone, the Metropolitan Cathedral contains a great display of statues and religious artefacts throughout. There is plenty to explore during a tour such as various chapels, two bell towers made up of a total of 25 bells, a central dome, portals, naves, vaults, arches, columns and altars. If you can, stay to listen to the beautiful choir singing which fills the entire cathedral creating a more than memorable moment.

 

National Palace

The National Palace or Palacio Nacional can be found in the heart of the city in Plaza de la Constitución also called Zócalo. It is the most important government building, holding the seat of Mexico's President as well as the Federal Treasury and National Archives; and surprisingly has no entry fee! With its waving Mexican flag flying the top of the building, its red exterior, gardens and grand architecture, there is plenty to feed the eyes. Its interior, however, contains an unmatched Mexican treasure. If you are an admirer of Diego Rivera's fantastic frescos, then the National Palace will take you to another level of his work like no other place in Mexico. Wander through colourful staircases and corridors of murals depicting the country's abundant history along with Rivera's political leanings. Visiting this 200 metre long building at night is an extraordinary vision and will have you praising its beauty even more.

 

National Museum of Anthropology

Stated to be the most visited museum in all of Mexico, the National Museum of Anthropology can be found inside Chapultepec Park between Paseo de la Reforma and Calle Mahatma Gandhi. Providing an extensive look and understanding into Mexico's heritage, you can explore some 23 rooms of captivating exhibits containing archaeological and anthropological artifacts in addition to fantastic models of famous ancient sights across Mexico. Some highlights of the National Museum of Anthropology include an original Aztec "Stone of the Sun"; a statue of the Aztec Goddess Coatlicue; a statue of the god of songs, dance and music, Xochipilli; an Olmec colossal head; murals depicting ancient Mayan life and many more! This huge museum is not only interesting for what it contains within its walls, the building in which the museum is located is simply original and striking.

 

Palacio de Bellas Artes

Near Alameda Central Park in the western part of Mexico City's historic centre is the Palace of Fine Arts. Probably Mexico's most important cultural centre since 1934, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, as it is known formally, is a grandiose mix of Neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles on the outside with an Art Deco interior. This visually captivating construction decorated with marble, brass and stain glass windows is renowned not only for its wonderful exhibits, theatrical performances, live shows and cultural events, it is also known for its collection of murals that depict Mexico's pre-Columbian history; all painted by influential Mexican artists including Diego Rivera. This is an all-time favourite landmark among tourists and one of the finest buildings of the Mexican capital.

 

Murales de Diego Rivera en la Secretaria de Educacion Publica

The king of murals, Diego Rivera, was one of Mexico's most distinguished artists made famous for his vast frescos which today decorate the walls of the Ministry of Education (Secretaria de Educacion Publica) in Mexico City's Historic Centre as in the Palace of Fine Arts, as well as in the National Palace of Zócalo plaza. Each one of Diego Rivera's exquisite paintings tells a story and as you make your way past each mural of this government building, absorbing all the colours, themes and actions within them, you will be able to see Mexico's history unfold before your very eyes without even having to read about it. This was one of the reasons why Rivera's paintings were so much loved by the country's people as the messages behind them were able to reach the richest of people to the poorest and illiterate ones. During your tour, witness portraits of historical Mexican figures including his artistic wife, Frida Kahlo, and explore Rivera's political ideas, hopes for the future and view on society. One of the best things about this attraction is that it is absolutely free so don't miss the chance to see for yourself these outstanding masterpieces!

 

Museo Soumaya

As you approach this mega attraction and landmark in Plaza Carso of Nuevo Polanco, your first reaction will be "Wow!". The unusual shape of Museo Soumaya which is then covered by 16,000 hexagonal aluminium tiles is tremendously striking and almost looks like something out of a Syfy movie! This private museum owned by Carlos Slim, once the richest man in the world, named the museum after his late wife, Soumaya. This refined museum, open to the public for free, contains over 66,000 pieces of art including European works from the 15th to the 20th century. The museum displays a range of big time artists including Auguste Rodin, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, El Greco and Tintoretto!

 

Chapultepec Castle

Opulent, grand and imposing; settled in Chapultepec Park atop Chapultepec Hill stands the neoclassical Chapultepec Castle. Completed in 1863, this impressive castle is one of only two Royal Castles to exist in the Americas and once housed the Mexican President until 1939. Today, this refined castle is famous for housing the Museo Nacional de Historia or National History Museum filled with interesting artefacts of Mexico's past. The outside of the castle offers highly groomed gardens which are wonderful to stroll around plus you can take the opportunity from here to observe Mexico City some 2000 ft below. To reach Chapultepec Castle you can either walk or take a tourist train, however walking is many times the preferred option as its allows you to stroll through the Chapultepec Park at your own pace whilst journeying through gardens discovering important monuments or feeding the parks' squirrels. Grab some souvenirs at cheap prices during your trek too as you come across venders and stalls lining the pathways towards the castle.

 

Six Flags Mexico

The only Six Flags amusement park in Latin America can be found in the most southern part of Mexico City in the Tlalpan forest and borough. If you fancy a break from visiting Mexico's most historical sites and fancy something modern, then Six Flags Mexico is a pretty good option. Divided into different sections, those being Mexican Village, French Village, Polynesian Village, Hollywood, Swiss Village, Cowboy Village and Bugs Bunny's Circus you'll find different themes and exhibits throughout this 110 acres park that will please the youngest to the oldest of the family. Previously known as Reino Aventura, this popular amusement was once most famous for housing the orca whale Keiko from the movie Free Willy which turned into the park's most visited attraction. Today its main attractions are its huge rollercoasters and modern film-themed rides. There are also water rides to be enjoyed and animal shows to be seen that will no doubt have you cheering. The Six Flags Mexico also features one of the world's biggest piñatas called Horstacio; it's not a must-see whilst in the park but it will make for a fun photo moment.

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