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Mexico City, Zocalo, Teotihuacan Pyramids and Xochimilco
Mexico City and the Giant Teotihuacan Pyramids
Mexico city is a big sprawling city, but with a lot of interesting cultural things for a tourist to do in a small area near the centre and also some fascinating archeological sites, such as the enormous Teotihuacan Pyramids just outside the city and the colourful Xochimilco: The Venice of Mexico
Here is an article about the things to see in and near this fascinating city and places to stay, hotel recommendations etc.
Map of Mexico City - Where is Mexico City?
Zocalo: The Centre of Mexico City
Zocalo is enormous with many things to keep you occupied for at least a day. The Catedral Metroplitana and "Museo de Stitio Del Templo Mayor" are an essential part of any itinerary and are just next to Zocalo and the Teocalli of Astec Tenochtitlan demolished by Spaniards in 1520s also stood here, so there are several layers of history right in the city's central square. Templo Mayor has been excavated and the colonial buildings demolished so the older ruins may be observed. The whole of the Zocalo area can be seen on foot and gives an excellent informative introduction to the Astec, Maya and colonial history of the country.
Guidebooks for Mexico
Places to stay in Mexico City and things to do - Hotel Recommendation for Mexico
The Best Western Majestic Hotel: This must be one of the best in Mexico City, on the west side of Zocalo, the main square, with a 7th floor roof-terrace and restaurant overlooking the enormous plaza de la Constrictucion, Catedral Metroplitana and Palacio National. An absolutely fantastic location, and the roof terrace makes a great place for breakfast or a drink to end an exhausting day's sightseeing.
For a different perspective on the city we later stayed at the Bamer Hotel, which, while not a great hotel and fairly characterless, did have a great view from my 10th floor room overlooking the park "Almeda Central" about a mile from Zocalo. All of the points of interest for most tourists are in a small area in the centre of this sprawling city. The Alomeda Central park makes a great place for a walk with many statues, fountains and trees and the Palacio de Belle Artes at the east end of the park. This white marble concert hall and arts centre was started in 1904 in art nouveau and neoclassical style, it started sinking and was finished in 1934 in art deco style making it a rather intriguing building. This is a great place to spend an hour or two, then just round the corner, the excellent art deco (ish) La Opera Bar is also a good place to stop for a drink and listen to the resident musicians. Museo Franz Mayer which mostly exhibits Mexican art and crafts, opposite the hotel on the other side of the park and the 16th century hospital de san Juan Dios are also worth visiting. The lovely courtyard restaurant in the museum makes a splendid place for lunch. Museo Rufino Tamayo is also worth a visit with its fine collection of modern art.
Teotihuacan Pyramids, near Mexico City
We took a fairly standard touristy tour, arranged at our hotel, to the enormous Teotihuacan Pyramids outside Mexico City, stopping en route at "Three Cultures Square" which has Aztec pyramids, a colonial church (made of stones taken from Pyramids) and modern structures all in one square, which is fairly interesting. Then on to "Virgin of Guadalupe" where there are three churches: one high up a hill, a newer one in the square and one that collapsed due to earthquake damage and subsidence, and on to the new circular cathedral built in 1974 made of concrete. We were then diverted into a polished stone statue and rug shop, which pretended to be a museum about tequila. We were shown how the maquey plant (a big cactus or succulent plant) could be made into paper, fibres, needle and thread, rugs and of course tequila, Mezcal and Pulque. Then we learnt how to drink it... I had four free shots, but still didn't buy anything from the over-priced shop, so I was tempted with two more shots and still didn't buy anything. The shopkeeper congratulated me and said no one had ever drunk six shots and then not bought something. I still didn't buy anything.
Teotihuacan Pyramids and ancient city are worth at least a two-hour visit. Huge pyramids in quite a desolate spot with cacti surrounding it. I climbed the pyramid of the moon, then the pyramid of the sun, for a wonderful view of this enormous old city, although rather regretting all of that tequila.
Xochimilco. The Venice of Mexico
We arranged a trip to Xochimilco the Venice of Mexico, 180 km of canals full of colourful boats, in a suburb of Mexico City. It was very busy because it was a Sunday, with traffic jam of gondolas, but great fun, colourful and a wonderful setting, with old ladies in small boats selling flowers and various people selling food etc.