Not only is Mexico City the capital of Mexico, but it is also Mexico's commercial center. The zocalo, or central plaza,
is the world's largest square and Mexico City's main historic district. A whirlwind of history can be discovered in the district's
museums, hotels, cathedrals, and public buildings. One mile to the north is the Tlatelolco Reforma and Chapultepec Park. Once
housing the historic Aztec
marketplace, it is now home to the Plaza of Three Cultures, depicting the three dramatic eras
of Mexico City's evolution. The elegant Paseo de la Reforma surrounds Mexico City from west to northeast. It was modeled after
the Champs-Elysees in Paris and built during the reign of Emperor Maximilian, the Archduke who ruled Mexico from 1864-67.
Just south of the Reforma is the fashionable Zona Rosa, or the Pink Zone. Built in the 1920's and reminiscent of Greenwich
Village, its location is ideal - half-way between the zocalo and Chapultepec Park. Most of the superior and deluxe category
hotels are located here, as well as the city's finest restaurants, historic landmarks and public buildings
This great square, called the Zocalo, evokes the place of homage and center of the world which was the heart of
the ceremonial nucleus of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. The Zocalo brings together the rhythmic beating of drums, the ankle-rattles
of the native dancers and the glowing incense of modern day medicine men. A point of reference, of protest, of ritual and
of national celebration, by night it offers an imposing spectacle which culminates in the tumultuous popular festivities on
the 15th of September (eve of Mexico's Independence Day).
The Zocalo is a massive concrete area signed with
a giant flag. The former the Merchants' arcade on the west side has cafs and even a traditional hat shop!
the underground Zocalo station you will find excellent historical reproductions of the Square.Artifacts unearthed from the
ruins of this double Mexica temple can be seen in the Templo Mayor and in its adjacent museum. This museum houses impressive
exhibits of ceremonial offerings, as well as the massive stone representation of the goddess Coyolxauhqui discovered here,
and also displays a number of scale models of the former ceremonial center.
The Cathedral and its Vestry synthesize
the art of New Spain. Through its imposing sun-bathed baroque and neoclassical facade the visitor enters the ethereal half-light
of this holy site, with its five separate naves, its chapels and its religious paintings. The Altar of Forgiveness, the sacristy,
and the Altar of Kings are all outstanding. The religious ceremonies are performed with the full dignity of the Catholic faith,
choirs and organs. The City's soft clay subsoil, excessive water explotation, has propitiated the gradual sinking of many
buildings such as the Cathedral. Restoration works, partially visible, have prevented its collapse.
To the East side
of the plaza stands the Palacio Nacional, a group of buildings erected as the seat of civil power from the days of the Viceroyalty
until the present. Its interior has several patios, corridors, and stairways graced by impressive murals by Diego Rivera whose
symbolism depicts, in great detail, key episodes of Mexico's history.
BOSQUE DE CHAPULTEPEC
At the end of Paseo de la Reforma avenue looms Chapultepec hill, noteworthy for the centuries-old
forest which encircles it and for the castle which crowns its summit. For hundreds of years Chapultepec has been a focal point
in this city of such tremendous population growth that an airy expanse of green is absolutely vital. It is complemented by
important cultural centers including world-class museums (as the Museum of Anthropology), amusement parks, a zoo and lakes,
and is crisscrossed by access routes. These routes are most used by hordes of visitors, many of them making up typical extended
Mexican families, with their far-reaching family ties.
Willow trees, ash trees, evergreen oaks and Mexican coniferous
trees make this green area the largest one in the city. Historic and cultural places of interest in addition to recreational
areas are all found here.
Down a cobblestone street lined with stately mansions, the visitor enters this world of beautiful plazas,
art galleries, restaurants and picturesque hustle and bustle. Its privileged location led to its eminence as a pre-Hispanic
center founded on the shores of the ancient lake, seat of government during the reconstruction of Tenochtitlan and home to
magnificent residences grouped around the 16th Century Franciscan cloister. It is here, around the atrium of the Saint John
the Baptist church, where the social life of Coyoacan unfolds, enriched by cafs, bars, bookstores, museums and the colorful
festivals which culminate in the tumultuous grito ceremony celebrating Mexico's independence on the 16th of September.
The everyday life of Coyoacan's inhabitants evolves in complete harmony with its visitors. Suffice to say that Coyoacan
played host to Leon Trotski, or that such celebrated free thinkers as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Celia Nutall and Salvador
Novo all called Coyoacan home. Their presence can still be felt, not only in their former residences, but in the intense cultural
life that pervades the atmosphere among the theaters, institutes and galleries. In Coyoacan can be found unique museums such
as the Anahuacalli, created by Diego Rivera as his personal tribute to the pre-Hispanic world; the Culturas Populares Museum,
a showcase for the lavish manifestations of the Mexican character, or the extraordinary Museo de las intervenciones, at Churubusco