Centro HistoricoOctober 31, 2016 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C
On our final day, we took a trip to the Centro Historico, the old downtown. The main plaza, known as the Zocalo, is in the same location as the Aztec city Tenochitlan. In fact, part of the massive Metropolitan Cathedral was built with stones from the Aztec's Templo Mayor thanks to Hernan Cortes and his conquistadors. Remnants of the temple's foundation can be seen just behind the church. The massive plaza is also flanked by the National Palace. The whole area looked quite European. As a result of the shifting soil, many of the structures are noticeably crooked (see the picture inside the church).
The plaza was filled with hundreds of little boats in preparation of the day of the dead festivals. Each boat was filled with pictures, painted skulls, and little gifts to help support the spiritual journey of the departures. We actually saw little, colorful altars everywhere we went. We caught the tail end of the parade on Saturday which featured many people, young and old, dressed up as skeletons with painted faces joining in the celebration.
With our only impression of Mexico coming from the resort towns in Yucatan and the Pacific, Mexico City offered a completely new experience. The city featured a modern downtown with top notch restaurants, and of course taco and torta stands. There are permanent rotating art exhibits along Paseo de Reforma, and no shortage of celebrations and festivals. We were lucky to visit during the fascinating dia de muertos festival in which Mexicans celebrate the lives of their relatives. There is an amazing cultural history in the 7000+ ft high Valley of Mexico, home to one of the West's first cities (Teotihuacan), the Aztecs, and then many influences after Spanish colonial conquest. It's definitely worth the quick flight from the US.Read more