A Mexico City travel guide – Aztec treasures, fiery food and colonial grandeur
Get your bearings
One of the largest squares in the world, the Zócalo, sits at the heart of Mexico City’s Centro Histórico, an area brimming with colonial architecture and cultural delights. The grand boulevard of Paseo de Reforma runs from this central district past the towering El Ángel monument until it reaches the lungs of the city, the extensive park land of Chapultepec. Near here fine dining and elegant shops await in the opulent neighborhood of Polanco. East of Polanco lies charming Condesa and bohemian La Roma, areas thriving with independent boutiques, seductive plazas and open-air cafés. From here, head south to the colorful quarter of Coyoacán, once home to Mexico’s most famous and exuberant couple, artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past, as glorious as it was bloody, comes alive through a visit to Mexico City’s spellbinding museums and archaeological sites. Relive ancient ceremonies in the Zócalo in the ruins of Templo Mayor, believed by the Aztecs to be the center of the universe. Just out of town, climbing the pyramids of the ruined city of Teotihuacán offers an insight into this great civilization. Back in the central Chapultepec park, the gravity-defying stunts of the indigenous Totonac people mark the entrance to the nearby wonders of the vast National Museum of Anthropology.
As diverse as its inhabitants, food in Mexico City rarely disappoints. Sophisticated Mexican nouvelle cuisine sits side-by- side with classic street tacos and regional specialities like mole poblano – a subtle chocolate-accented sauce of chillies and spices. Try mouth-watering pumpkin quesadillas at the traditional markets in the Centro Histórico area or head to the Polanco district for exquisite seafood in palatial surroundings. Rise late at your Mexico City hotel and join the throngs of young Chilangos (city residents) for a late brunch of red-hot shrimp tacos in Condesa’s fashionable bistros.
Succumb to the bold colors and vivid tones of Mexico City’s distinctive art scene. In the historic center, dramatic 1920s murals depict Mexico’s post-revolutionary age on a massive scale. Diego Rivera’s majestic frescos and Frida Kahlo’s proud portraits await discovery at their Casa Azul (Blue House) in Coyoacán. Stroll the quirky galleries in Condesa and explore the up-and-coming artists’ studios in the trendy Roma neighborhood.
Peppered with jewels from the Spanish colonial era, Mexico City overflows with ornate architecture. The sumptuous 17th Century baroque churches of the Basílica de Guadalupe and Catedral Metropolitana highlight Mexico’s rich history. Ponder the city skyline from the Chapultepec palace raised high above sculptured gardens. Extend your Mexico City break with a visit to the outlying barrios (neighborhoods) of San Ángel and Tlalpan – a haven of atmospheric colonial-era residences.
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