A major cultural Renaissance is overtaking Mexico City, Mexico’s unsung capital. Public spaces have been revitalised. Mexican cuisine is gaining international recognition. Innumerable museums celebrate its long history and burgeoning arts and culture. And traditional cantinas are opening their doors with a warm welcome.
It is a surprising city in so many ways, with the magnificent historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at its heart. We invite you to uncover some of its countless surprises in a small group with Gate 1’s Discovery Tours.
- 1. The major cultural centre of Mexico, Mexico City is home to 160 museums, the greatest metropolitan concentration in the world. More than 100 art galleries and 30 concert halls host a vibrant arts scene.
- 2. Mexico City’s setting is stunning. It rests at an altitude of 2,240 metres (7,350 feet), on a high plateau in the Valley of Mexico. Dramatic mountains encircle the city, which lies at the geographic centre of the nation.
- 3. No city, not even those in Spain, is home to more Spanish-speaking residents.
- 4. It is the oldest capital city in the Americas, founded as Tenochtitlan on an island in Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs in 1325. When the Spanish arrived in 1519, it was the largest capital in the world.
- 5. Teotihuacán was the political and social capital of Mesoamerica before the Aztecs arrived. The twelve-square-kilometre city, built between 100 BC and 250 AD and preserved today as historic ruins, is home to the second largest pyramid in the world, the Pyramid of the Sun.
- 6. In the mid-19th century, Austrian Maximilian I ruled the Mexican Empire. Today’s Paseo de la Reforma, the long and elegant boulevard lined with embassies and monuments, was fashioned by him after the Champs Élysées in Paris.
- 7. The capital’s enormous zócalo, or main square, is the second largest in the world after Moscow’s Red Square.
- 8. The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest in the Americas, was built upon the ruins of a major Aztec temple.
- 9. The modern-designed National Museum of Anthropology is home to the Aztec Calendar Stone. A 24-ton circular stone more than 3 metres in diameter. The most recognised piece of Aztec sculpture, it is believed to have been carved around the turn of the 16th century to serve a religious or political purpose, or to simply track the passing of days, weeks and months.
- 10. The splendid murals within the 17th-century National Palace were painted by renowned Mexican painter Diego Rivera. They depict Mexican civilisation from its ancient Aztec origins to its post-revolutionary period and took the artist 22 years to complete.