Mexico City is the political, cultural and economic center of Mexico, as well as being the capital. This city is situated in the center of Mexico, in the Valley of Anahuac. Mexico City was originally erected by the Aztecs in 1325. The name of the city at that time was Tenochtitlan. During the Spanish siege of 1521 the city was left in total ruins. It was promptly rebuilt by the Spanish government and in 1524 the municipality of Mexico was created. By 1585, the name was officially changed to Mexico City. Today the city enjoys a population of over eight million people.
The second oldest university in the Americas is located in Mexico City and was built in 1551. It is also one of the largest colleges on the entire continent with over three hundred thousand students enrolled. This university, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, conducts over half of Mexico’s scientific research. Several entrepreneurs, most of the countries presidents and three Nobel laureates have graduated from this university.
Due to it’s high elevation, Mexico City has a very moderate temperature. The average temperature is sixty four degrees Fahrenheit and the winters are very mild. During the summer months, Mexico City gets a large amount of rain.
One of the first stops that visitors make when touring Mexico City is El Zocalo. This plaza, also known as the Plaza de la Constitucion, is located in the center of this cities historic district. Located on the side of the square is the The Presidential Palace. This is a colonial style building that has beautiful murals depicting the history of the city. Just adjacent to the square is the Metropolitan Cathedral. Inside this cathedral is the King’s Chapel and gilded altar. The square is usually filled with hordes of vendors, merchants, tourist and traditional Aztec dancers.
Templo Mayor is another popular attraction. Originally it was part of the city of Tenochtitlan and has been partially excavated. This temple was built in the fourteenth century and over the course of its life was expanded. It is here that the bloody rituals to the sun gods were performed. Inside this site is a museum named the Museo del Templo Mayor. At this museum are original artifacts recovered from the site.
Another fascinating site to see is the Palacio de Bellas Artes, or Palace Of Fine Arts. This palace constructed of white marble features a concert hall and an arts center that has many brilliant works of art contained within it. This palace also contains two museums, the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Museo de la Arquitectura. The combined collections of these museums include over six thousand paintings and sculptures. Also the Ballet Folklorico performs here twice a week.
The Bosque de Chapultepec is Mexico City’s biggest park. Located in it is a large lake, the zoo and two museums. The largest of these museums is the Museo Nacional de Antropología. It houses a large collection of ancient artifacts from the Teotihuacana Empire, the Aztecs and the Mayans. San Ángel is a pretty little suburb of Mexico City. It is littered with various cafes and restaurants, as well as several museums. Every Saturday there is a craft fair where local vendors hawk their art and handmade crafts.For those visitors who are looking for a little more action, then the Zona Rosa is the district to be. Here there are various nightclubs, restaurants and shopping venues. Also located in this area is the Independence Monument featuring the gilded Statue of Winged Victory.
There are also a ton of places that can host some of the top Spanish and English speaking singers. These include the ten thousand seat National Auditorium. Other popular sites for musical performances include the Teatro Metropolitan, the fifteen thousand seat Palacio de los Deportes, and the Foro Sol Stadium. There are many other venues for smaller musical ensembles and solo performers, as well. These include the Hard Rock Live, Bataclán, Foro Scotiabank, and Voilá Acoustique.
Mexico City is also home to some of the most culturally significant and entertaining festivals in the entire country. One of the most important ones is Independence Day. This day commemorates Mexico’s independence from Spain. It starts out with the President stepping out on the balcony of the National Palace and addressing the crowd below. The city is then consumed with street parties and firework displays. The culmination of the event is a military procession the following day. Another important festival is Candlemas Day. This is a holiday that is part religious ceremony and part cultural pride. The next festival was taken from ancient Aztec ceremonies and is called Day of the Dead. It’s a time that is marked by ceremonies honoring those who have died. Other important festivals in Mexico City include
Cinco de Mayo, the Festival of Mexico and the Xochimilco Festival.
Interestingly, two of the most important historical sites of Mexico City are not really located in the city. One of these is Teotihuacán, This site is located approximately thirty miles from Mexico City. It was believed to have been built by a long forgotten culture around 300 BC. It is also believed that the city was abandoned due to some natural disaster. When the Aztecs discovered the abandoned city they gave it its current name. Prominent features of this site include the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon and the Citadel. The second site is called Guanajuato. This was a city that was founded by the Spanish in 1558. This is an unusual site with brightly colored buildings that have an off kilter feel to them. This location also has some interesting museums and several churches. This site has since been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An important part of this city are the cultural events that take place here. Every weekend musicians stroll the streets, adorned in traditional dress, playing instruments and banging on drums. After their procession the musicians will then tell stories to the crowd.