One of the largest cities in the world, CDMX, or Ciudad de Mexico, has sights, sounds and flavor for just about anyone. From art to history, culture and culinary delights, we’ve picked some of our favorites after spending time in this lively city.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
The Palacio de Bellas Artes is a highlight of downtown Mexico City. Situated on the western side of the historic center of Mexico City, it replaced the first National Theater of Mexico, which was constructed in the mid-1800s and had a greater seating capacity than its replacement: Palacio de Belles Artes, which was inaugurated in 1932. It is home to some of Mexico’s most notable artistic events of all kinds, from painting, sculpture, photography and more.
Plaza de la Constitución, the massive main square also known as the Zócalo
The city’s main public square is known as Plaza de la Constitución, or El Zócalo. One of the city’s highlights with many other attractions flanking, it’s highly recognizable with a prominent Mexican flag at the center. Since the time of the Aztecs, it’s been the host site for large public gatherings. Historic buildings that line the square include the city’s national cathedral, which “U.S. News and World Report” cites as one of the top things to do in Mexico City (No. 12), and the National Palace (Catedral Metropolitana), which comes in at No. 8 in the same city list.
Trajineras in Xochinlico
According to WorldHeritageSite.org, Spanish colonizers built Mexico City in the 16th century atop the ruins of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. CDMX’s Xochinlico area, located just south of the city, contains a network of canals and islands built by the Aztecs. Today, gondolas known as “trajineras” ply the canals and these are essential to local culture and a festive activity often cited as a bucket list must-do.
In the article “Travel Spotlight: Mexico City’s Colorful Trajineras,” Forbes Magazine contributor Wendy Altschuler describes trajineras as “multi-hued flat-bottomed watercrafts, which resemble Venetian rowing boats.”
Propelled with the human power of a gondolier, these boats travel along the canals with many others behind, next to and in front of your watercraft. Festive music, traditional cuisine and drink are ubiquitous along the way, as are tourists and locals alike. It’s a feast for the eyes, ears and palate.
Reforma Avenue and the Angel of Independence
The Angel of Independence, or El Ángel (The Angel), is known as Mexico’s Monumento a la Independencia (“Monument of Independence”). A well-known visual for Mexico City, it’s a victory column in the center of a bustling intersection in the city’s Reforma Avenue (Paseo de la Reforma) thoroughfare. Since the early 1900s, it has stood in tribute to Mexico’s victory in its war of independence over Spain. Cambridge University Press’ “Journal of Latin American Studies” in 1996 analyzed this period around 1910 — the centennial celebration of independence — and all the activity happening in CDMX at that time in commemoration.
Monument to the Revolution
Another towering monument in CDMX is El Monumento a la Revolucion (The Monument to the Revolution), which is the world’s tallest triumphal arch at 220 feet or a little more than 67 meters. It’s a landmark and monument commemorating the Mexican Revolution, located in the Plaza de la República, near the heart of the major thoroughfares of Paseo de la Reforma and Avenida de los Insurgentes. It also is a mausoleum with tombs for some of Mexico’s most prominent revolutionaries: Lazaro Cardenas, Plutarco Elias Calles, Francisco I. Madero and Francisco “Pancho” Villa. It also includes an art gallery, the National Museum of the Revolution and additional exhibit space.