Last Updated on February 27, 2021 by Natalie Rabinowitz
If you are a fan of archaeology, prehistory, a vibrant, colourful culture, Mexico City, a cosmopolitan city, is worthy of a visit. My time in Mexico was limited, where I spent five days in Mexico City followed by 24 hours in Mérida to visit the archaeological sites of Uxmal and Kabah. I was quite pleasantly surprised by what Mexico City has to offer and took in every moment.
A Cosmopolitan City
Mexico City (pronounced Meshico the “x” sounds like “Sh”) is a cosmopolitan city with lots of museums (barely touched the surface), lost of police, and poverty. Did you know that Mexico City was built on Lago de Texcoco during the Aztec period. The city is sinking at a rate of 2 inches per year? It is obvious to see. The Metropolitan church in the center of downtown Zocalo’s Plaza de la Constitucion is sinking. I opted to stay in this area as it was convenient for the next morning; I was ready at 6:50 am for a tour of Teotihuacan. Day tripper mentioned below.
Zocalo was the ceremonial center of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. The Colonial architecture and Church in the main square is stunning and has a strong presence of Mexico’s conquest by the Spanish. People are friendly and don’t bother you — relief for women travelling alone. Downtown is vibrant at night. I was blown away by an operatic performance that resonated through me. I also enjoyed watching locals performing sage cleansing.
Love Mexican food, you are in the right place. Importantly do not to drink tap water or have beverage with ice. The best practice is bottled drinks. You will notice that Coca Cola is Mexico’s coffee and beverage of choice.
An Abundance of Museums and Culture
Temple Mayor Museum is in the center of historic downtown Zocalo. Highly recommended visit as you meander through the famous main temple. Consequently, Temple Mayor was once the Aztec empire of Tenochtitlan. There are remnants of painted frescoes to be admired and a reclining figure known as Chacmool. Find Tiqets online or purchase at Temple Mayor (MX$70, that’s under £3! Open 9:00 am -5:00 pm)
Frida Khalo Museum, also known as the Blue House, is an intimate visit to where Frida Khalo worked and loved with Diego Rivera. I highly recommend buying your Tiqets online and in advance as there will be a long line which is organized by time slots. A plus is that you can take photos inside Frida’s studio home but will need to purchase a permit on location for a small fee. (The main entrance fee is MX$230, that’s £9! Open 10:00 am -5:30 pm) After exploring the world of Frida, wander the district of Coyoacan and explore the colourful homes and cobblestone streets. Plaza de la Conchita is a relaxing spot to relax, enjoy the scenery, and has a Spanish church dating back to when the Spanish conquistadors settled the area in the early 1500s.
National Museum of Anthropology an in-depth and the largest museum in Mexico showcasing Mexican art from the Teotihuacan, Aztec, Oaxaca, Mexica and Maya periods; to name a few. It is easy to spend half a day here admiring some of the most amazing prehistoric Mexican art in once place. Purchase Tiqets online or at the museum. (MX$75.00 pesos, that’s about £3! Open 9:00 am – 7 pm, closed on Monday)
Palacio National home to the Diego Rivera mural. A must-see depicting the tumultuous history of Mexico from prehistory, to the Conquistadors, and revolutionary periods. This massively epic mural has three sections and portrayed with vivid colours; representing the beauty of Mexico’s indigenous people. Best bet is to show up around 10 am. Most websites will say the Palacio National opens early but not to tourists. You will need to bring identification to enter, free of charge.
Soumaya Museum a free private non-profit museum showcasing over 60,000 sculpture and paintings from Mexican and European artists spanning from the 1400s to present day. The building itself is a modern marvel of a masterpiece. Suggestion when visiting the museum is to take the lift/elevator to the top and spiral your way down. (Free and open every day from 10:30 am – 6:30pm)
Ciudadela Market is the place to be if you are looking to buy or just browse traditional Mexican handicrafts and folk art. You can easily spend a couple of hours here wandering around. There is also a restaurant in the center if you are hungry (Open 10 am – 7 pm).
Teotihuacan the impressive archaeological complex that was once the largest MesoAmerican city. Situated in northeast Mexico City, I opted for an early morning tour with an Archaeologist who provided an informative narrative throughout. A must and will see is the well preserved painted jaguar fresco. I loved the early morning start and the small group, which gave us time to enjoy the quietness before the flock of people showed up. (Cost about £27 with Get Your Guide’s early access with Archaeologist starting at 6:30 am and lasting 9 hours) Afterwards, we sampled some local tequila, mezcal, and pulque; had the option to shop, and enjoyed a fabulous buffet lunch with live performers. In the late afternoon, we arrived back in downtown Zocalo. A well spent and recommended day trip.
I did not expect Mexico City to be such a cosmopolitan city. The country as a whole is unfairly tainted. I highly recommend Mexico City where you will be pleasantly surprised. A thriving Latin city that meshes the love for its culture, history, guacamole, delicious chocolate, and fantastic museums.