Mexico City’s top tourist attractions
Mexico City (Ciudad de Mexico), country’s capital, is situated at an altitude greater than 2,200 m in the Anahuac Valley. The valley is surrounded with majestic mountain ranges. It’s breathtaking because of its location. At more than 5,000m, two spectacular snow-covered volcanoes, Popocatepetl (Iztaccihuatl), tower over the city.
Although many remnants of its past are preserved in the city, pre-Columbian art or architecture can only be found in museum reproductions. Since the Spanish Conquistadors established their new city upon the ruins of the Aztec metropolis Tenochtitlan, they have been unable to find any fragments. Many beautiful Baroque churches and palaces from this period are still in existence.
Mexico City is large both in area and population. But, the majority of Mexico City’s top tourist attractions are located in the historic heart of the city (Centro Historico de la Ciudad), a 15-kilometer UNESCO World Heritage Site with more than 1,400 buildings from 16th-19th century. You can walk to many of the city’s Aztec origins, Spanish colonization, and other interesting sites. This is a must-see place for tourists.
Our list of top attractions in Mexico City will help you discover more things to do.
Zocalo – The Birthplace of Constitution
Mexico City’s heartbeat lies in Zocalo – Plaza de la Constitucion, also known as Constitution Square – where Mexico’s first constitution was signed in 1813. It measures around 240m in length and was built almost immediately after conquest of Tenochtitlan (an Aztec city).
The square was used by many purposes during colonial times. It was used as a bullfighting area and market.
It is home to the Metropolitan Cathedral, National Palace, and Templo Mayor, all three most visited tourist attractions of the city. Zocalo is the ideal starting point for exploring this historic place.
Hot Tip You can enter for free.
Templo Mayor & The Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan, Mexico City
Despite being destroyed extensively by the Aztecs after their defeat, some of their most important historical sites have been recovered and placed on display over the years. Templo Mayor, the site with the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan remains, is the most significant. It houses the first relic that was discovered in 1978. It is a finely sculpted, round disc over three meters in circumference and weighing eight-and a-half tons.
Additional excavations have revealed that the Aztecs and their predecessors had built over the temple site 11 times, with the pyramid’s summit platform showing an earlier pyramid with well – preserved temple walls.
It is worth a visit to walk past the “winged warrior” precinct, where you will find evidence of original paintings and remains of multicolored reliefs-decorated residences.
Address: Seminario 8, Centro Historico, 06060 Ciudad de Mexico, CDMX, Mexico
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral,Mexico City
The huge Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana de la Asuncion de Maria), dominating the Zocalo square, is one the oldest and largest churches of the Western Hemisphere. This huge basalt and grey-sandstone structure was built on the site of an Aztec temple. Construction started in 1525, and has been ongoing for more than 250 years.
Despite the presences of two neoclassical towers along with other features, it creates a Baroque impression through its enormous twisted columns. One of the most striking features is the 1793 bell-towers and the 1813 statues of Faith Hope Hope and Charity that are located on the clock Tower.
The interior of the cathedral displays a mix of styles. A highlight is the intricately carved Altar of the Kings, or Altar de los Reyes, from 1739. Also, the magnificent devotional painting of the Assumption of the Assumption (Asuncion de Maria), which the cathedral dedicates.
A chapel that houses the remains Mexican Emperor Agustin de Buturbide, as well the crypt that holds the tombs of many of the city’s archbishops including Juan de Zumarraga, a great teacher of Indians who was also the first incumbent of their see, are also of interest.
Address: Plaza de la Constitucion S/N, Centro, 06000 Ciudad de Mexico, CDMX, Mexico
Chapultepec Park , Mexico City
Bosque de Chapultepec (Mexico City’s principal park) covers more than four kilometers. This was once the stronghold of the Toltecs. It was here that the Aztecs settled in AD 1200. According to legend, they then created a park in early 15th-century Mexico.
The Aztec rulers used the hill as their summer residence. Water from its springs was brought to the capital through an aqueduct. It is possible to still see remnants of Aztec ruler portraits on the hill’s slopes.
Popular features of the park include its lakes, sports facilities and botanic garden. There are also museums, such as the National History Museum and National Museum of Anthropology.
Museum of Modern Art (Museo de Arte Moderno), an open-air museum that was established in 1964, is worth your attention. It offers a retrospective look at Mexican art from the colonial period to the present and features a collection of images and sculptures created by Mexican artists of the 19th through 20th centuries.
Chapultepec Zoo offers a wide range of animals from different parts of the world.
The National Palace
Mexico City’s central square is occupied by the enormous National Palace (Palacio National), which was built from reddish Tezontle stone. It boasts a 200-meter-long façade and is the official residence for the president.
Built on top an Aztec palace, the building was once the seat of Spanish viceroys. It has seen many modifications and enhancements over the years. It is among the best-preserved buildings in the area. It also includes the Freedom Bell which was rung each year on the anniversary of the War of Independence.
The palace has many beautiful rooms that are arranged around its 14 courtyards. Some of these are open to the public. The grand staircase houses Diego Rivera’s mural The History of Mexico.
English language guided tours offer an opportunity to explore a museum and a variety of large halls as well the parliamentary chamber, where the Reform Constitution of 1857 and the Constitution of 1917 were drafted.
You will also find the State Archives, which contain important historical documents, as well the Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada. This is the country’s largest library.
Address: Plaza de la Constitucion S/N, Centro, 06066 Ciudad de Mexico, CDMX, Mexico
The Palace of Fine Arts
One of Mexico City’s most significant cultural landmarks, The Palace of Fine Arts is an architectural treasure. This enormous marble structure, designed by Adamo Boari of Italy with Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Art Nouveau influences, towers above the park. It was built in 1934. It has since sunk to more than 4 meters despite attempts at lightening it by removing a part of its massive dome.
The palace houses an opera house, concert hall and hosts many operatic and classical performances. It is also home to many famous artists like Jose Clemente, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
On the fourth floor, you will find the Museo Nacional de Arquitectura. This museum features rotating exhibits that focus on contemporary architecture.
Address: Juarez, Centro Historico, 06050 Ciudad de Mexico, CDMX, Mexico
The National Museum of Anthropology
The National Museum of Anthropology, which is the largest of its kind anywhere in the world lies in Chapultepec park. It’s hard to miss because of the monolithic figure that marks its entrance.
Built in 1964, this stunningly successful example contemporary architecture is known for its incredible displays of Indian art treasures.
The collection is just as spectacular as the building. It contains archaeological finds from extinct Indian culture and details of Indian life in Mexico.
Other highlights include National Library of Anthropology. It was established by Lucas Alaman 1831 and built by Emperor Maximilian. It contains more than 300,000.
Address: Av Paseo de la Reforma y Calzada Gandhi S/N, Chapultepec Polanco, 11560 Ciudad de Mexico, CDMX, Mexico
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