Mexico City, the City of Palaces, the ancient capital of the Mexica empire and
the jewel in New Spanish Viceroys’ crown, is today one of the biggest, most
complex and most beautiful cities in the world. The mere size of the urban
spread makes it a city among cities.
Mexico City is a modern, cosmopolitan city situated in an old lake basin
that is surrounded by volcanic mountains. The different cultures that inhabited
the city during the course of the centuries left an interesting architectural
legacy that comprises many different styles. Firstly, there are the pre Hispanic
remains that tell of the greatness of the civilizations that settled on this
land before the arrival of the Spaniards. Mexica art can be seen on the ruins of
the Templo Mayor (The Great Temple), the site where the monolith of the goddess
Coyolxauqui was found.
architects that arrived from Europe during the colonial period applied and
shared their knowledge of baroque, neoclassic and other styles of art that were
combined with the indigenous styles to create an architecture that is quite
unique in all the world. Works such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, palaces,
mansions and an endless number of sober, sumptuous churches adorn the central
area of the city now called the Historic Center; these extraordinary types of
buildings can also be seen in some of the picturesque towns and villages such as
Coyoacán, San Ángel, Tlalpan and Xochimilco that used to be the outskirts of the
city but have now become incorporated into the built up areas; in spite of this,
they still maintain their provincial atmosphere. Later, after Mexico became an
independent country, new districts of the city were built in a Frenchified style
and in the art deco and colonial Californian styles.
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Modernism was characterized by magnificent
skyscrapers that sprung up in districts such as Polanco, Anzures, Del Valle and
Santa Fe. The advantage of a mega-city such as Mexico City is that it offers the
visitor all sorts of entertainment possibilities during the day and at night.
Avenues like Avenida Insurgentes are true axis of fun and recreation and have
spots that cater to all tastes. Mexican culture in all its manifestations can be
admired at the large number of quality museums that can be found in many
different parts of the city. These have displays and exhibitions of art and
culture ranging from the pre Hispanic (the National Museum of Anthropology) to
the Vice Regal (the Franz Mayer Museum) to the modern (the Museum of Modern
Art), as well as Mexican traditions as can be seen in the Frida Kahlo Museum.
There are also plenty of possibilities for those who
want to leave the city and enjoy nature. You can visit the volcanic mountains in
the south of the city or the mountain valleys to the west and enjoy the
quesadillas (melted cheese in tortillas) that can be bought at the food stalls
located in the shade of the forest trees that form part of the National Parks
and Ecological Reserves. To the east, the traveler can admire the snow-capped
volcanoes of Popocatepetl and Iztaccíhuatl, just as the Indians, Conquistadors
and general population of the city did over the centuries.