Mexico City is one of the world's great cities. It boasts wonderful, leafy parks, world-class museums, fine restaurants, varied and interesting neighborhoods and Paseo de la Reforma, a wide and tree-lined boulevard that connects the sprawling Chapultepec Park to the city's central historical district several miles away.
When I was first planning my trip to Mexico, I was not sure what to make of Mexico City. In the U.S., we hear so much about the problems: the crime, the air pollution, the traffic and the congestion that come with an urban area of more than 21 million people. After my first two days in Mexico City, however, I was prepared to spend several weeks there (though, in the end, I could only allocate one week of my four week visit). I hope to return many times in the years to come.
One of the things that I liked best about Mexico City was the liveliness of its streets. Much of Mexico's commerce takes place on the street and many areas of the city, especially near the historic center, abound with street markets and sidewalk vendors. These vendors offer an unbelievably wide variety of goods and services. Food, of course, is available everywhere, as is jewelry, fresh flowers and all sorts of garments. But in one area, near the Plaza de Santo Domingo, we came upon a whole arcade lined with small printing presses and "scribes," who would transcribe the thoughts of poor or illiterate residents who wanted to have their business transactions or messages put into writing.
Mexico City is also deservedly famous for its public art. Many Mexican painters, such as Diego Rivera (1886-1957), David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974), José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) and Juan O'Gorman (1905-1982) created large public murals in places such as the National Palace, the Department of Education, the Autonomous University and the Palace of Fine Arts. Aside from these murals, Mexico City's parks and boulevards are populated with statues and other works of art. Finally, Mexico City's modern architecture is bold and creative.
The slide show in the window above presents a quick overview of Mexico City. For more detail on specific areas check out the slide shows below that will run in a separate pop-up window.
Mexico City's Central Historical District: The central historical district (centro) of Mexico City combines historic buildings from the Spanish colonial era, along with commercial, governmental and religious buildings that bustle with the daily life of present-day Mexicans. (27 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]
Chapultepec Park (Bosque de Chapultepec): Chapultepec Park covers more than 2000 acres in the heart of Mexico City and includes lakes, a zoo and several museums, including the world-famous National Anthropological Museum. The park is active all the time, but really comes alive on Sundays when it is filled with families and, from time to time, "voladores." (24 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]
Public Art in Mexico City: Mexico City abounds with public art. Two public buildings (the National Palace and the Department of Education) feature inner courtyards that are lined with scores of large murals by Mexican painter, Diego Rivera. Outdoor statues, both artistic and historic, line the city's grand Paseo de la Reforma, dot the Zona Rosa neighborhood and spring up in parks throughout the city. (13 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]
Mexico City Neighborhoods: Mexico City is a large and sprawling city and one of the world's most lively and populous urban areas. But within this giant metropolis there are many quiet neighborhoods that seem worlds away. While Zona Rosa has been a lively area of shops, restaurants and hotels for years, other neighborhoods such as Condesa and Roma have become trendy areas. (18 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]
Paseo de la Reforma: Mexico City's Paseo de la Reforma is one of the world's grand boulevards. The avenue was created by Emperor Maximilian who wanted a direct and majestic route from his castle in Chapultepec Park to the National Palace in the central district. (11 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]
Mexico City Street Markets: Much of life in Mexico takes place on the street and markets are no exception. Almost any product, food or service is available from these lively and colorful markets. (18 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]
Villa de Guadalupe: Mexican Catholics believe that in December 1531 the Virgin Mary appeared on this site to an Indian peasant, Juan Diego, and requested that a church be built. Diego reported the vision to the local bishop, who asked that he provide some sort of proof to back up his story. The Virgin again appeared to Diego and directed him to pick some nearby roses – which had miraculously appeared in the middle of December – and take them to the bishop as proof. Diego bundled the roses into his cloak, but when he opened it for the bishop, the roses had vanished and in their place appeared an image of the dark-skinned Virgin. Today, Juan Diego's cloak, with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe clearly visible, hangs above the altar in the modern Basilica. (11 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]