The capital of Mexico, very old, the world's largest city, the financial, political and cultural center of Mexico, the nightlife capital of México, one of the worlds great cities, huge, one of the world's most difficult cities to drive in, filled with exciting things to see and do, sinking, an energetic metropolis or just an incredible place to visit.
Mexico City is definitely all of the above and much, much more. This is truly one of the most interesting and diverse cities in the world. Mexico City holds many pleasant surprises for those who choose to vacation here. Travelers to Mexico often overlook this city because most of the country's tourism promotion is directed toward Mexican beach resorts.
Mexico City is the capital and largest city of the nation of Mexico. The 'Distrito Federal' is also commonly just referred to as the 'D.F.'. It is one of the largest cities in the world and is classed as a megalopolis as it encompasses one large city that has slowly engulfed other, smaller ones.
It is located in the Valley of Mexico, a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, about 2,240 m above sea-level, surrounded on most sides by volcanoes towering at 4,000 to 5,500 m above sea-level. Mexico City is also among the five most populated metropolitan areas in the world together with Tokyo, New York City, Seoul and São Paulo.
Mexico City should be on your 'Must Visit' list if you are a fan of world-class museums, archeological treasures, international cuisine, incredible shopping experiences, stately mansions, colonial neighborhoods, dazzling nightlife, inviting plazas and gardens or great city parks.
Don't let the sheer size of Mexico City scare you, most tourists will most likely confine their visits to three or four well defined areas of the city and maybe some easy side trips. Depending on where you stay, many attractions will be just a short distance away and those that are not so close can be reached fairly easily. Organized tours, taxis, city buses or the modern subway system (during off peak hours) should be considered over attempting to drive in this city. The traffic here is legendary, and for very good reason. For side trips to the nearby colonial towns or archeological sites a rental car is fine, as the highways and toll roads surrounding the capital offer pleasant driving conditions.
Mexico City, now the center of, business, culture and government for the country, was once the center of the entire Aztec empire. The current Zócalo, or town square, is built on the same spot where once stood Montezuma's palace. Many of the old mansions and public buildings in the area were built hundreds of years ago using the stones from the Aztec temples that were destroyed by the Spaniards. The Zócalo is Latin America's largest main square at over 13 acres. Despite it's size, the zócalo tends to get crowded in the evenings and on weekends. Monuments, parks, fountains and great tree lined avenues are everywhere you are likely to visit within the city.
Skyscrapers sit beside splendid examples of colonial architecture, archeological sites share space with modern day structures and freeways lead to charming neighborhoods of colonial buildings and peaceful plazas. Museums are around just about every corner and the rich heritage of Mexico's colonial past is evident almost everywhere.
There are many places, within Mexico City, to escape the fast pace of the city and where you will feel like you are in a different world within a few minutes time. Paseo de la Reforma, the city's main thoroughfare, will give you an immediate idea of why Mexico City has been referred to as the 'Manhattan' of Latin America. This elegant boulevard is lined with dozens of magnificent monuments including the much-photographed Independence Monument, which has become the unofficial trademark of Mexico City. Sharing the precious space along Paseo de la Reforma are modern high-rise office buildings, embassies, luxury hotels, colonial mansions, more monuments and shaded pedestrian promenades.Chapultepec Park is an enormous green area in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of this fast paced city. This park is the city's largest, covering over 2000 acres, and it contains enough of the city's attractions, including three of the most important museums, that a short vacation could easily be devoted just to the attractions within the park.
Alameda Park, near the zócalo and Palace of Fine Arts, has been around since 1541, making it the city's oldest park. The park has also been an Aztec market and was also the site of burnings, hangings and executions in the old days. With it's walking paths, numerous fountains and a Moorish kiosk, this park is full of, old style, traditional charm. This refreshing oasis is a great place to rest or relax and enjoy some green space for a while, if you are walking near the historic center. There are also a couple of monuments here that are, themselves, worthy of a visit. On weekends there are often salsa or rock bands playing, an excellent Sunday puppet theatre for the kids is often active around noon. Many interesting colonial style buildings and museums surround this park.
The neighborhoods, or colonias, of Centro Histórico, Zona Rosa, Polanco, Roma, Condesa and Lomas de Chapultepec are all fairly close to each other and also to Paseo de la Reforma. These are the principal areas in the central part of the city that are most popular with tourists. In the southern part of the city the suburbs of San Angel and Coyoacan along with the Floating gardens of Xochimilco are places you should definitely visit during your stay.México City is a great vacation destination for the entire family. There is something interesting and entertaining for everyone. For those seeking a taste of authentic Mexican culture there is more than enough to keep you occupied for the entire length of your vacation. A vacation here, combined with a couple of short side trips should be just enough to make you wonder when you are going to return and why you haven't visited before.