Monumental Cathedrals, Memorable museums, Magnificent architectural beauties, that is Mexico City! Our first impression of this beautiful metropolis was so astounding that we have decided we want to visit again. Centro Histórico (historical center) comprises of a few blocks in all directions around the Plaza de la Constitución, the massive main square also known as Zócalo.
North of the Zócalo is the magnificent Baroque-styled Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. The imposing Palacio Nacional (National Palace) is to the east which houses the office of the President of México, the Federal Treasury, the National Archives, many murals depicting pre-Hispanic life and a large mural filling the central stairway showcasing the entire history of the Mexican nation from the ‘Conquest’ onwards. To see more pictures, click here.
To the south east is the Supreme Court of Justice to the nation building and south is the Secretariat of Environment and Embassy police unit building. West we have the Gran hotel-Ciudad de México with its rooftop restaurant commanding an awesome view of the Zócalo, Cathedral and surrounding buildings.
Northeast of the Cathedral lie the ruins of Templo Mayor and its adjoining museum. As you explore this grand city in all directions, you will come across more and more architectural wonders. The Palace of fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) located in the west side of the Historic centre beside the Alameda Central Park, is a feast for the eyes. To see more pictures, click here.
There are many many attractions, museums and art galleries to visit in Mexico City but don’t miss out on the street lights. Some are so unique in design that they are remarkable!
2.4 miles (3.5 kms) to the west is the impressive Angel of Independence column and statue located in the middle of a huge roundabout. It is worth visiting.
An hour’s drive north of Mexico City will take you to the regal pyramids of Teotihuacan. I recommend not going with a tour company as you need much more time at the pyramids than they give you. It is fairly easy and safe to get to Teotihuacan on your own. Find your way to Autobuses del Norte station. Inside the station, head all the way towards the left, to Puerta (gate) 8. Here, you will find a window selling tickets to “Pyramides” or “Zona Arqueológico”.
I recommend sitting on the drivers side to click pictures of the colorful hillside neighborhood of Ecatepec (not safe to visit) along the way. A cable car services this impoverished municipality which is definitely trying to improve its safety image.
All luggage is x-rayed at every bus station and passengers on the bus are video-recorded for safety reasons, do not be alarmed. The bus ride is approx. an hour and if you’re lucky, you might even have live music entertainment on the way.
You need at least 4 hours here if you truly want to appreciate all the details, climb both the big pyramids and walk around the whole complex. It is a sprawling complex comprising of the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon and a lot of smaller pyramids with some fascinating paintings/carvings of a Puma on some.
Please consider health as climbing the Pyramid of the Sun, which is taller between the two, is not a task for the feeble. It is approx. 250 steep steps to the top (broken into 3 landings). The view from the top is breathtaking in all four directions.The climb up the Pyramid of the Moon is only to the first level and with very steep steps but the view from here, is spectacular as you can see all the smaller pyramids and look straight down the “street of the dead”.
There are drainage tunnels linking each area and you can actually crouch and walk through them from one courtyard to another.
When departing, take the exit directly across from the Pyramid of the Sun. This will take you to a small lane that has shops on either side and you can shop around till you find better prices for souvenirs. At the end, there is a public toilet which is exceptionally clean. Once you exit the site, the restaurant on the right side is very reasonably priced for food, drinks and is clean! The bus stop back to the city is right there too.
There are a few other places that we did not have time to visit but would definitely recommend. Two blocks west of The Angel of Independence is Chapultepec park.
From here, the city of Puebla is just 85 miles (136 kms) and a MUST see.
- Pretty safe in the Centro Historico and also on city buses.
- Centro Historico can be walked around and covered in perhaps 3-4 days.
- Airport to Centro Historico by approved prepaid taxi is 190 – 230 pesos. Ask for a sedan taxi as they try putting you in a van which is costlier. Look for Yellow cab.
- Most Bus stations have prepaid taxi service available with a fixed reasonable fare from point to point
- Taco al pastor (grilled pork), Churros (fried dough pastry) and Orange juice (Natural) are a must, delicious and always fresh.
- If traveling by local bus, keep change (coins) handy, 4 pesos is a fare.
- We used Airbnb and it was an awesome experience. Heart of the Historical Centre, apartment to ourselves and a secured entrance with a doorman.