5 Reasons to Visit Mexico City: #1 Constitution Plaza

Every year, on September 15th, the President of Mexico comes out of the Presidential Palace and cries out “Long live Mexico!” A gigantic crowd responds “Viva!” That is, “yes, long may it endure!” It is an impressive and moving demonstration of patriotic fervor (watch it below). This is Zocalo, the Plaza of the Constitution, the heart of Mexico City.

Ever since seeing this plaza in various Mexican series, I had wanted to see it. I was fascinated by the way people gathered there before the president and showed their love for their country. I was fascinated by the classic Mexican architecture around it. I was fascinated by the history of place, going back to the pre-colonial period. It was high on my list.

Our hotel was on Reform Avenue, which I will consider in a later post. We made our way down that avenue past its numerous monuments to the Calle Francisco Madero. You enter it right next to the impressive Palace of Fine Arts. The Calle Madero is the principal connector of the plaza to the rest of the city. On this road, you will find innumerable shops, restaurants, churches, and other points of interest. It is worth a slow walk. This needs to be a part of your trip, as well as a jaunt a few streets over to the oldest bakery in Mexico City, called The Ideal.

When we entered the plaza, the first thing that struck my eyes was the large cathedral to the left. It is, in fact, the largest cathedral in Latin America. The size of the cathedral is not as apparent, though, because the plaza itself is so huge. It also is one of the largest in the world. I took numerous pictures, but it was hard to capture the spirit of the place in a photo. It is so extensive with so many things going on that pictures do not really do it justice.

The first thing I wanted to see was the presidential palace. We made our way to the presidential palace and stood right below the spot where the president was going to come out and great the crowd a few days later. Behind us, they were setting up barriers and preparing for that celebration. It was a moving experience.

After that, we went to see the cathedral. Construction began on the cathedral in 1573. Think of it. At least three decades before the English settled in Jamestown, the Mexicans were at work building what would be the largest cathedral in Latin America. How big is it? It is 75,000 square feet. This space houses five places for congregations to gather for worship as well as 14 chapels. As to its contents, it is the burial place of Hernando Cortes, the famous Spanish conquistador. It contains numerous works of art dating back to the colonial period as well as its beautiful gold-plated altar.

This is far from the end of the experience of wonder at Zocalo. Underneath the church, you can see the remains of the foundations of the Templo Mayor, the ancient Aztec Temple. You see, Zocalo has been a gathering point for inhabitants of the city since Aztec times and even before. Leaving the Cathedral, your first evidence is a stairway that leads to below ground level. This a sort of museum that opens up to show the foundations of the Templo Mayor and how the Metropolitan Cathedral was constructed virtually on top of it. There, you can also see the remains of a sacred oak tree that was discovered at the base of the temple as well as numerous other displays.

I thought that this was all we would see. I was wrong. The whole temple complex has actually been excavated. It is a huge temple complex filled with intricate designs and many rooms. You can walk all over it thanks to the walkways that have been built above it. Now, the temple and the Metropolitan Cathedral are both clearly visible in the Plaza.

Over the years, innumerable impressive artifacts, including that famous symbol for Mexico, the Aztec Calendar, have been discovered in the mound that was the Templo Mayor of the Aztecs. For centuries, no one paid much attention to this temple. However, many artifacts were discovered as people built houses on top of it and later when was it was systematically excavated.

The Museum of the Templo Mayor has many of these artifacts. There you will find complete statutes of the Aztec gods. There are tools and goods from all over Mexico and displays explaining what happened at the temple. I was simply blown away by the quantity and quality of the artifacts (pictured below is a complete statue of Huitzilopochtli: the Aztec god of war, the sun, and patron deity of the city of Tenochtitlan, which later became Mexico City. ).

One thing that the Museum does not have is the famous Aztec Calendar. That calendar can be viewed but not there. It is in the Museum of Anthropology. And that is the second reason you should visit Mexico City, and I will explain it in the next article, which reason #2 to visit Mexico City: the Museum of Anthropology.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope it inspires you to visit Mexico and Mexico City in particular. We have an amazing land to the south of us (if you live in the United States), and it contains innumerable wonders. If you liked this article, please share it and subscribe below to get the other four of the five reasons to visit Mexico City delivered to your email. I hope to see you here again.


First photo by Luis Andrés Villalón Vega on Unsplash


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