Mexico’s Natioanl Palace
Let’s start our virtual trip to Mexico in the most important neighborhood of the city and country, downtown Mexico City. El Zócalo, or Plaza de la Constitución is the main square of the historic center of the city. This open space has been very important for the Mexican society since the time of the Aztecs. Here is where the Mexica celebrations took place. During the time of the Spanish colony viceroys were sworn in this space and it has been a place for royal proclamations, military parades, Independence ceremonies and all kinds of cultural, political and religious gatherings. This is Mexico’s most important public space and here’s where every September 15th the president of the republic performs El Grito de Dolores (the cry of Dolores) that was the battle cry that started the War of Independence 200 years ago in Dolores, Guanajuato.
Mexico’s Cultural, Political and Religious Heart
The square is surrounded by some of the most important buildings in the country, the National Palace to the east, the Federal District (Mexico City) buildings to the south, the Old Portal de Mercaderes to the west, the ruins of the Aztec’s Templo Mayor to the northeast and the Metropolitan Cathedral to the north.
The Old Portal de Mercaderes
Mexico City Government Offices
Culturally speaking, the main square, and downtown in general, is the most important spot of the country. Here you can see Aztec dances performed by several groups, concerts and street performers of all kinds. You can buy pre-Columbian like artifacts and memorabilia, visit any of the 15 museums, 30 religious or any of the 19 sites of interest in and around downtown.
There’s a little bit of everything for everybody
The first University of America
Tired of walking? You can take an ecologic taxi cab.
City of Palaces
After Alexander von Humboldt visited Mexico in the 18th century he dubbed it the City of Palaces because of it’s many palaces and beautiful colonial buildings. Walking on the streets of downtown Mexico transports you to a glorious Aztec and Spanish colonial pasts. The beautiful architecture by itself is a very good reason to visit the capital of the city and get lost in the rich history of it’s buildings and streets.
The Postal Palace, to me the most beautiful building in Mexico
Palacio de Bellas Artes, Palace of Fine Arts, a massive construction that for many is the crown jewel of downtown Mexico City.
The old and the new
How about an used book street market behind the Postal Palace?
A pedestrian paradise?
Mexico City is known for not being very friendly to pedestrians. However, this administration has been working on changing this perspective, at least in downtown. They have closed the street of Madero to cars to make it a pedestrian corridor. When I was there a couple of weeks ago, they were still working on it, but it promises to be a great space to walk, watch street performers, have a cup of coffee or eat in one of the many cafés and restaurants on that famous street.
Are you a vegetarian? You can also enjoy downtown Mexico without going hungry.
El Sanborn’s de los azulejos, my favorite restaurant in downtown.
And where do you eat in downtown Mexico City? There are a lot of options for everybody. If you are not feeling adventurous at all you can try a McDonald’s, Burger King or any of the other American fast food chains. You can eat at any of the great restaurants there or if you are feeling very adventurous you can try the street food, that in my most humble opinion, is the best way to know the real Mexico.
If you are not feeling adventurous you can always go to a Starbucks…
On the next post of this series I will talk about my favorite restaurant in downtown (because of its architecture) and some other highlights of this amazing part of the country. I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed visiting and writing about it.