Many who visit Mexico City compare it to the greatest cities in Europe, perhaps because its downtown is layered in 1,000 years of culture, with one civilization built upon another. Ancient ruins, their golden stones etched with prehistoric carvings, lie uncovered at the Templo Mayor, once the thriving center of the Aztec empire. Spanish colonial churches and the Municipal Cathedral stand nearby, their intricate Baroque façades adorning one of the world's largest plazas, the Zócalo. Mexico city is building its future, too, withas gleaming glass and steel towers in the thriving business district promiseinternational cuisine and world-class shopping.
Things to Do
In Mexico City's Historic Center, faded paintings and worn stone carvings of the Templo Mayor, reflect religious rites once celebrated at this Aztec temple. Stone goddesses and mysterious masks recovered from the ruins lie in the neighboring Museo del Templo Mayor. Nearby, Spanish conquistadors left their mark in the intricate spires of the Metropolitan Cathedral. See the work of Mexico's beloved artist at Museo Frida Kahlo. See why residents consider the enormous park Bosque de Chapultepec their playground. Contemplate the city's bygone empires on evening strolls through theZócalo, or plaza, a treasure trove of medieval Mexican architecture.
Browse the 12 city blocks of Mexico City's Zona Rosa whose windows display antiques, jewelry and boutique clothing: heavy silver bangles, leather jackets and brightly-painted tiles. City markets buzz with locals shopping for the day's produce and household items. The Mercado de la Merced snakes through the city's historic center and includes hundreds of vendors selling luscious tropical fruits, spices, and colorful shawls and table linens.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Mariachi bands stroll Plaza de Garibaldi, performing traditional boleros or ranchera music on oversized guitars and brass instruments. The meticulously-dressed musicians, clad in black jackets, silver buttons and straw hats, epitomize the romance of rural Mexico while an audience of locals sip coffee at outdoor cafés. Traditional regional dance is performed at Ballet Folklórico de México, filling the stage with the finest dancers, whose vibrant skirts swirlaround their ankles.
Restaurants and Dining
The San Angel neighborhood's modest, traditional restaurants fill the air with the scents of slow-roasted pork, simmering onions and sautéed peppers, attracting Mexican families. The Polanco area updates traditional dishes, blending indigenous ingredients like cactus and yucca flowers with light, modern cooking techniques. The Centro Histórico draws crowds of locals and tourists to Mexico City's most popular restaurants, serving cuisine from every corner of the globe.