Overview : Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world. With a population of more than 20 million, the city stretches into neighboring ... more »
Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world. With a population of more than 20 million, the city stretches into neighboring ... more »states but the heart of the city is the Zocalo (main square) and its "Centro Historico."
Built on the site of the original Aztec capital, the colonial vibe of the historic district connects back to the first Spanish Conquistadors. Yet, there is more than history. Today people find a vibrant district filled with people, art, and architecture. A daytime walk through the Centro Historic is a must for any visitor to Mexico City.
The seven stops on this tour will give you a great understanding of Mexico's past, its people and its present day culture. less «
Tip: Stay alert. The district is crowded and although Mexicans by nature are extremely helpful (some speak some English in the city)... more » make sure you take general safety precautions by keeping an eye on your belongings and not wearing flashy jewelry.
Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes. The streets are made of cobblestone and some sidewalks might be uneven so be aware.
Tip: Be prepared to shop. You might find everything for sale on a walk through the district. Items include pirated DVDs and music (music seems better quality than DVDs) to the bare essentials of socks and underwear. The streets' makeshift stalls might be on one block and then not on the next.
Tip. Street vendors speak limited English and they don't expect bargaining.
Tip: Be aware there may be a festival or even a demonstration in the Zocalo. And the main square or plaza is always decorated for holidays (Christmas, Dia de los Muertos, etc.) Don't worry; whatever happens (or is happening) in the Zocalo is what makes the square one of the most famous in the world. less «
Before we start walking the city streets, let's begin at the city's oldest park - Alameda Park.
First established in 1592, the park was renovated in 2012. The two-city-block park resides on the grounds of an original Aztec Marketplace and it is one of the few green spots in this part of the city.
Alameda park is open during daylight hours and... More easy to get to via the metro (subway) from the Bellas Artes stop or by taxi.
The park contains a large monument to Benito Juarez, located close to the Avenida Juarez side. Benito appears on the 20 peso bill. He was a president of Mexico in the 1800s and is widely compared to America's first president, George Washington.
The park is often used for art exhibitions. Art is popular in Mexico City. If you are lucky, you might stumble across an exhibition. If not, there will be plenty more art on the walking tour.Less
The main theater of the city, the Palacio Bellas Artes, was constructed in the early 1900s. The building itself is a work of art. The outside facade is designed in an early-20th Century Art Nouveau style while the inside is classic 1930s Art Deco.
The building is home to some of the city's best art work including a few prize murals painted by... More Diego Rivera, one of Mexico's most famous painters and the husband of Frida Kahlo, another famous Mexican painter.
Also, the building is home to performing arts, and one show to catch is the Ballet Folklorico. It contains 10 acts of dance relating to the many cultural customs of Mexico.
Monday-Saturday 11am to 7pm
Sunday 8:30am to 7pm.
The Ballet Folklorico show (tickets are available at the box office)
Sunday 930am and 830 pm
Admission to the building is 43 pesos, and the price of the show depends on your seats. Prices are $36 USD and higher.Less
On the way to the Zocalo, stop at the famous La Opera Bar (and Restaurant) for a refreshment. Whether it is a coffee or a cerveza (beer) you get much more than a beverage when you visit this iconic destination.
Upon entering, visitors are transported back in time a few generations to a simpler era. The low lights, dark-wood booths, baroque... More ceilings and oil paintings set a memorable mood.
It is often crowded for lunch, so a reservation is recommended if you want to eat. Lunch here can be more expensive than other options in Centro Historico. Although La Opera Bar is the only food/dining place recommended on this tour, you will pass many options on the walk.
The main square, the Zocalo, is one of the largest squares in the world and it might be the busiest. Festivals and celebrations held in Mexico and Mexico City all center around the Zocalo (or Plaza de la Constitución - the formal name, which is never used).
Inside the square, you can find anything from traditional indigenous cleansing... More ceremonies to a telescope (at night) to view the moon. Most will ask for a few pesos for their services.
The square is built in the exact location of the heart of the Aztec Capital, which makes it the oldest, longest used "central" square in the Americas.
Do take precaution when crossing the street to enter the main part of the square. The sheer size and fanfare can be distracting, but remember it is still used as a main artery for traffic too.
Here you just walk around to take in the views and the people. The next spots on the tour are all basically attached to the square.Less
After the crowds of the Zocalo, walk over to the Palacio Nacional (National Palace) for an escape.
The historic building once occupied by Hernan Cortés (Cortez), the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Aztecs, offers free access to visitors showing a passport.
Once inside, make sure you spend time in the courtyard, the gardens and... More reviewing more of the many famous murals painted by Diego Rivera.
With groundbreaking in 1573, the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary of Mexico City, is known as one of the largest and oldest cathedrals in the Americas. Originally replacing a church established by Cortes after conquering the Aztecs, the doors of this massive edifice built across many years (completed 1813) remain open to the public... More.
Most of the cathedral's 16 chapels are open to view too. Each is dedicated to a different saint (or saints). Inside visitors will notice ornate altars, paintings, and many sculptures among the artifacts.
Entrance to the Cathedral is free to the public, but donations are appreciated.
The Templo Mayor was one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan before Cortes arrived. Its remains still can be viewed just steps away from the Zocalo.
The main temple of the Aztecs was only part of a city believed to contain as many as 78 buildings. This temple was dedicated to the rain god, Tlaloc, and the god ... Moreof war, Huitzilopochtli.
Excavation of the great temple began in 1978, when the stone sculpture of the moon goddess Coyolxauqui was unearthed by electric company workers. This piece and many others can be found on display in the museum, which opened in 1987.
You can see the ruins from the sidewalk instead of paying the 51 pesos admission to the site and museum.
51 pesos; Free to Mexican citizens.
Free on Sunday