As in a complex mosaic, each of the principal areas of Mexico City contains archeological sites, buildings from the Vice royalty, from the 19th Century, and of more contemporary design, and outstanding museums and cultural centers housed, on occasion, in ancient edifices or in newer purpose-built constructions.
Mexico City attractions are concentrated in three geographic areas of interest:
The historical center of the city is an intense microcosm full of human, artistic and monumental endeavor; of bustling commercial venues, and of superb restaurants. A compact 60-block sector replete with Aztec and Spanish colonial influence; includes the Zócalo, Avenida Madero/Juárez, the Alameda park, several fine museums and important historic sites. The entire zone was declared a national historic monument in 1980. The U.N. recognized the area in 1987 as a “World Heritage” site. In 1999 the Mexico City Tourism Authority announced$300 million collaboration with private sector investors to rehabilitate and renovate the area in an effort to entice visitors, raise living standards, and reduce crime.
Paseo de La Reforma/Chapultepec Park
The finest hotels, stores, museums and city views, not forgetting outstanding first class restaurants, can be found along the Paseo de la Reforma avenue and in the Chapultepec and Polanco areas. The area spans several kilometers along the city’s grand east-west, French-inspired avenue; an area with strong European influence; outstanding museums (including the Anthropological Museum, children’s Papalote Museum and Chapultepec Castle) and the stylish Zona Rosa and Polanco areas.
Southern Mexico City: the southern sector includes the National University, ruins of Cuicuilco, the floating gardens of Xochimilco, the colonial neighborhoods of Coyoacán and San Ángel, and several excellent museums. To reach the southern suburbs of the capital, head south on Avenida Insurgents, reputed to be the longest boulevard in Mexico (16.6 miles). You’ll find some of Mexico City’s more attractive suburbs. Not to be missed are two of Mexico City’s most pleasant boroughs, San Angel and Coyoacán.
Chapultepec ParkCapping Paseo de la Reforma at its western end is Chapultepec Park, a vast cultural and recreational attraction spanning 2,100 acres. Interestingly, the park has been in service for over 500 years – the Mexica (Aztecs) used the wooded area as a refuge and summer retreat for its nobility. Visitors can enjoy five of the country’s finest museums, two lakes, a zoo with pandas, an amusement park with one of the world’s largest roller coasters, a miniature railroad, fine restaurants, a botanical garden, and kilometers of quiet walkways. Four of the city’s finest hotels – Camino Real, Nikko, Presidente Inter-Continental, J.W. Marriott – border the park.