Mexico City’s Historic Downtown is a living, breathing museum.
With almost seven-hundred years of history, the art and culture that enrich it and the nightlife that electrifies it make it one of the most important destinations in Latin America.
In less than ten square miles you will find over 1500 historic sites, giving you a seemingly endless slew of options.
The Historic Downtown area is an ideal place to feel Mexico’s history, a place where visitors can marvel and see in close proximity the glorious architecture in its labyrinthine streets, the endless art in museums and public spaces, and the ceaseless energy pouring out from every corner, day and night.
There are innumerable activities in this area, and no list can capture the plethora of options it offers.
However, we can set down a few of the places that are an absolute must when visiting.
This might be the most emblematic space in the city, given that it is surrounded by several historic buildings, like the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the National Palace.
It is better known as the Zócalo (the Main Square), and it is a giant public space with the Mexican Flag flying proud in its center.
Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans gather here to participate in historic and political events, concerts, or simply to walk and relax.
Another stop to make is the Templo Mayor (Great Temple).
It is considered the center of religious life for Mexico’s ancestral natives, built in prehispanic times.
It is a sacred place of legend, where the prophecy of the travellers of Aztlán found the eagle posing atop a cactus, devouring a snake, the emblem which Mexico’s flag proudly carries today.
Unfortunately the site was razed with the arrival of the Spanish, in order to trace the beginnings of New Spain.
However, the remains are now open to the public, a reminder of Mexico’s proud and ancient heritage.
Next to this archaeological site was founded, in 1987, the Museum of the Great Temple, where you can find and learn about the history of the site outside, as well as sculptures and other symbols from the Mexica peoples.
The Metropolitan Cathedral is nearby, and is one of the most important religious destinations in Mexico.
Its architecture is glorious, and serves as a symbol of Mexico’s modern religious heritage.
The cathedral was built over the course of three centuries, from 1573-1813, and is a stop for any visitor in Mexico City, as well as thousands of locals every day.
It also offers tickets to visit its bell tower, for a modest sum.
Another unforgettable stop in a tour of the city’s Historic Downtown is the Palace of Fine Arts.
Its marble facade is stunning, as is the rest of the building, with its construction, begun in 1904, lasting thirty years.
Its style is heavily French, a strong influence during Porfirian times.
Within, you can find many rotating exhibits from all over the world, a concert hall with perfect acoustics, and many murals by some of Mexico’s most iconic artists.
Make a stop in the Latin American Tower, the first skyscraper in Mexico City, and for many years the tallest building in Latin America.
It was built from 1956-1972.
On the 44th floor you will find a view of this magnificent urban landscape.
The building is also home to a museum, an aquarium, and a restaurant.
Don’t forget to stop by and walk the Alameda Central, the Palace of Mining, the Main Post Office, the old headquarters of the Mexican Mint, the Casa Talavera, and the San Ildefonso Museum.
Things to see and do
festivals, cultural tours, museums, expos, dance, theater, concerts, bars, nightlife, gastronomy, bike rides, tour buses, historic sites, archaeological sites, religious sites.