Mexico City is the oldest capital of the Americas, which arose on the ruins of an Aztec city. This left its mark on the appearance of the metropolis.
What to do in Mexico City
The historical center of the city attracts tourists with numerous palaces and temples. Its architectural splendor will be appreciated by aesthetes.
Museums of the city carefully store artifacts of long-gone civilizations. Visiting their exhibitions will be interesting for lovers of secrets, mysteries and everything unknown.
The sights of Mexico City are not limited to material heritage. Streets, squares and markets are the guardians of a special atmosphere that everyone should feel.
The palace stands on a hill of the same name with a height of 2325 m. Previously, Mexican rulers used it as an official residence, then a military academy lodged here and even an observatory worked. Today it houses the National Historical Museum.
The building with columns, arches and balustrades began to be erected in the 18th century by order of King Bernardo de Galvez. Soon the funding ran out and the project had to be put on hold. Construction continued only in 1806 after the purchase of the building by Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg. He made extensive redevelopment and turned the neoclassical palace into his country residence.
The baroque building adorns the Zocalo square. Here is the archive, the treasury, museums and the residence of the President.
The palace was built in 1693 by order of Cortes. To speed up its construction, workers used stones from Montezuma’s palace. It turned out a grandiose 200-meter structure. Initially, it had only two floors, in the 1930s another level was added.
The main decoration of the interior is the frescoes by the outstanding artist Diego Riviera. On them, the master depicted epic episodes from the history of Mexico.
Palace of Cortes
The massive building appeared in the 15th century on the site of an Aztec temple on the orders of Cortes. More like a fortress than a palace, it was designed to show the greatness of Spanish culture and protect the viceroy from attacks by disgruntled natives.
The global reconstruction of the structure took place in the mid-1970s. Today it houses a museum dedicated to the evolution of the region. In 19 rooms exhibited items related to the Aztec era, important documents, maps and paintings.
latin american tower
The skyscraper with a height of 183 m (45 floors) is located in the very center of the capital. It was built in the mid 1950s. Located in a seismically hazardous area, the giant successfully withstood several major earthquakes. Almost the entire building is occupied by offices of various companies, and observation decks are equipped on the 43rd and 45th floors.
Palace of Fine Arts
The Carrara marble opera building was built in the historic center of Mexico City in the 30s. The Palace of Fine Arts, designed by the Italian architect Adamo Boari, is the material embodiment of several styles at once — neoclassical, art nouveau and bezart.
Its inner walls are richly frescoed by the great Mexican artists Siqueiros, Mariscal and Rivera. People come here not only to listen to opera and watch ballet, but also to visit two museums — an architectural museum and a museum dedicated to the Palace itself.
The main post office or the Postal Palace was built at the beginning of the 20th century by order of President Porfirio Diaz. He was not very popular with the people, but it was during his reign that many beautiful buildings and streets appeared in the Mexican capital.
The eclectic facade of the palace is decorated with arched windows, balconies, carved porticos and a huge clock. The interior is pompous. The decoration is dominated by glass, gilding, marble and stucco. The palace was seriously damaged during the 1985 earthquake, restoration work was carried out only 10 years later.
The luxurious 3‑storey baroque palace was the wedding gift of the Count of Valparaiso to his daughter. The construction was supervised by the architect Francisco Antonio Guerrero y Torres. He decorated the facade with elegant stone carvings and balustrades, installed towers on the sides, placed a balcony and a grandiose arch over the entrance.
In the XIX century, the College of Mining was located in the palace, then a hotel. In 1965, the municipality bought the building, and after restoration, creative workshops settled in it. Today it is a popular venue for exhibitions.
Churches and cathedrals
The largest Catholic cathedral in Latin America was erected in 1532 on the site of an Aztec temple glorifying Huitzilopochtli, the god of war. The stones of the destroyed sanctuary were partly used as building material.
The architecture of the building shows features of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance. The nave rises to a height of 110 m, on the sides there are two quadrangular towers, on which a total of 30 bells are placed. In the middle stands a smaller tower with chimes. The exterior is complemented by sculptures of saints and apostles.
The interior impresses with the abundance of gold details on the marble columns, vaults and walls. In 1962, the cathedral had to be reconstructed after a serious fire.
Church of the Blessed Virgin Pilar
Also known as La Ensenaza, this church is considered one of the most beautiful in the capital. Initially, its building housed a monastery founded by Maria Ignasia Alzor. After the military reform in 1867, the monastery was closed, and it was empty for more than a hundred years. Then the building was transferred to the jurisdiction of the church.
The architecture of the building is a reflection of the unique Mexican Churrigueresque style. The facade is notable for numerous openwork details carved in stone. The main point of attraction is a giant altar that reaches the level of the roof. It is richly decorated with gold and figures of saints.
The intricate woodwork of the interior looks artful. And the frescoes on the walls depict scenes from the life of Pilar.
Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The construction of this temple is associated with a legend. One day, a peasant named Juan Diego was going to morning mass in the neighboring town of Tlatelolco, when suddenly on the Tepeyac hill he saw a beautiful woman, from under whose feet light streamed. It was the Virgin Mary. She ordered to go to the bishop and tell him to build a church on the hill.
The bishop did not believe and demanded proof. When the Mother of God appeared again, Castilian roses blossomed on the hill — an unprecedented phenomenon for winter. The peasant wrapped them in a cloak and brought them to the bishop. As soon as he took out the flowers, the cape shone, and the face of the Virgin appeared on it.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe was built in 1531, and almost immediately it became a place of pilgrimage for Christians. Despite the fact that the temple was repeatedly rebuilt, its main relic — a peasant’s cloak with the face of the Virgin Mary — has been preserved.
National Anthropological Museum
The largest museum in Mexico keeps the richest collection of objects from the pre-Columbian era. These are objects of everyday life and worship of the Mayan, Olmec and Aztec peoples, found during excavations in Mexico.
The museum operates on the territory of Chapultepec Park. On an area of about 8 hectares, there are several open-air exhibition areas and 23 pavilions. The highlight of the collection is the statue of the God of Rain and the “stone of the sun”. The Mayan calendar made a lot of noise among the fatalists who expected the end of the world in 2012.
Frida Kahlo Museum
A talented artist, communist, devoted wife and hospitable hostess has become a symbol of Mexico. The house where Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivero lived was turned into a museum by local authorities in 1955.
The house tells about the daily life of a brilliant family. Frida’s personal belongings are on display here: clothes, jewelry, brushes, as well as paints and an easel donated by banker David Rockefeller. The interior has been preserved unchanged — it breathes with love and hospitality, which the Trotsky couple used in the early 1930s.
The museum exhibits the most significant masterpieces of the artist, among them “Marxism will give health to the sick”, “Frida and the caesarean section” and “Long Live Life”.
Diego Rivera Mural Museum
This museum was created to preserve one single piece of art — a fresco by Diego Rivero, which he created for the Prado Hotel in 1975. The hotel building was to be demolished after a devastating earthquake. A fragment of the wall was simply carefully cut out and moved to a new location.
The mural “Sunday Dream in Alameda Park”, 15 m in size and 4 m wide, is an epic work that depicts iconic figures that influenced the history and development of Mexico at different times: Maximilian Habsburg, José Marti, Benito Juarez and others. Diego Rivero portrayed himself as a boy held by the hand of Christina Posada. The gaze of the child is fixed on his wife, Frida Kahlo.
Templo Mayor, whose name translates from Spanish as “big temple” is a unique open-air museum. The complex is the ruins of the Aztec religious buildings. The main ones are the temples of the gods Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli, located on a 60-meter pyramid.
Heat Mayor was built around 1325, and two centuries later it was destroyed by the conquistadors. The remains of the pyramid were accidentally discovered in the 20th century during the laying of a cable.
The futuristic building immediately attracts attention: the 46-meter facade looks like an anvil covered with sparkling scales. The museum has 6 floors — it can take several days to view the expositions. Inside is a collection of art worth over $700 million.
The museum was opened in 1994 by the richest resident of Mexico, Carlos Slim, and named after his late wife, Zumaya. More than 60 thousand items of European art of the 15th-20th centuries are stored in the storerooms.
The paintings of Dali, Da Vinci, Picasso, Chagall, Renoir deserve special attention. Here you can also admire the collection of sculptures by Rodin — the second largest in the world (360 pieces in total).
The Wax Museum
The museum opened in 1979 and since then has been regularly updated with new exhibits. Today, it exhibits 160 wax copies of prominent people in the world of politics, art, sports, as well as heroes of cult films.
The figures are placed in 14 halls by epoch, field of activity or subject. Here you can take a photo with Michael Jackson, Margaret Thatcher or Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator. There is a souvenir shop at the exit.
National History Museum
The museum, established in 1944, is located in Chapultepec Castle. Exhibitions occupy two floors, exhibits are located in 20 halls. In total, more than 150 thousand items are stored in the storerooms. All of them are associated with different time periods in Mexico.
The stands feature coins, clothes, antique furniture, household items, engravings, photographs, paintings, and sculptures. On the top floor there is a diorama recreating the interior of the castle during the reign of King Maximilian I.
Folk Art Museum
Created in 2006, the museum aims to promote Mexican folk art, which is a mixture of Amerindian and Spanish traditions. There are items made of glass, metal, wood and ceramics. Paintings and sculptures are collected in separate rooms. Masks and jewelry deserve special attention.
The museum has a school where you can sign up for a master class and master your favorite craft.
Paseo de la Reforma
The main avenue of the capital crosses Mexico City in a straight diagonal. The project was developed by Ferdinand von Rosenzweig back in 1860. He took the famous streets and avenues of major European cities as a basis. The grandiose construction was initiated by the monarch Maximilian I, who wished to connect Chapultepec and the imperial palace with a direct road.
The length of the avenue is approximately 12 km. It houses cafes, restaurants, bars, boutiques and office buildings. The main attraction is the monument “Angel of Independence”. The column was erected in honor of the victory in the struggle for independence.
Mercado de Artesania
Colorful, bustling and amazing, Mercado de Artezania is the best place to buy souvenirs and experience Mexican culture. All products here are made by local craftsmen. Sombreros, ceramics, jewelry and clothing in the national style are especially popular with tourists. Be sure to bargain before buying.
Zocalo Square (another name for the Constitution) is the symbol of Mexico City. It is the largest in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. In the middle stands a flagpole with a waving banner.
The area is framed by administrative buildings, the Cathedral and the Presidential Palace. Paving stones are stones from the temples and palaces of the ruined Indian city of Tenochtitlan.
Also known as the Witch’s Market, Sonora is a labyrinth of streets and alleys lined with stalls of magical paraphernalia. Despite the fact that Mexicans are ardent Catholics, they do not hesitate to resort to the help of otherworldly forces to solve everyday problems.
Here you can buy charms from the evil eye, talismans for good luck, soap guaranteed to attract the attention of the opposite sex, drugs for all diseases. There is no problem that cannot be solved with the Sonora Market range.
An art garden has been operating in Sullivan Park since the 1950s. Here, every Sunday, paintings, photographs, prints, sculptures, installations by local artists are exhibited and sold. The largest part of the original open-air shop is occupied by painting. The subject, the size of the canvas, as well as the choice of artistic means for expressing fantasy are not limited by anything.