Walking Tour of Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City, the sprawling capital of Mexico and one of the largest cities in the world, is built over the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, which stood on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco. After the conquest of the city by Hernan Cortes in 1519, the city was destroyed, the lake filled in, and a Spanish city was begun on the site. Its greatest temple, Templo Mayor, is currently being excavated about a block away from the center of Mexico City’s main square, Plaza de la Constitucion, better known as the Zocalo.
This walking tour (probably in excess of five miles long) begins at the heart and soul of the city, the Zocalo. One of the important and noteworthy buildings on the square is the Metropolitan Cathedral. It sits on the northern side of the plaza and is the largest church in Latin America. The cathedral was constructed over a period of three centuries. Highlights of the interior include the Altar de los Reyes and the Choir.
On the eastern edge of the square is the National Palace, which contains the offices of the Mexican president. The main draws here are the murals by Diego Rivera, one above the main staircase, and an entire series of murals along the courtyard walls, which depict the history of Mexico.
Exit the square by walking north on Seminario, past the Fuente de la Zona Lacustre. To your right, when the street name changes to Argentina, is Templo Mayor, the ruins of an Aztec temple from the ancient city of Tenochtitlan. It was discovered only recently. Be sure to walk through the excavations, and also to visit the museum which displays many of the original artifacts uncovered at the site.
Now turn right, on Justo Serra, to visit the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, a part of the national university which has become a museum, devoted to the mural movement in Mexican art, which dates to the early 20th century. This museum features the works of Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros.
Now, reverse direction and cross Argentina, continuing east on what is now Donceles. On your right is the Templo de la Ensenanza. Originally built as a convent church, it was taken over by the government. The main altar of the church is positively stunning, a fantasy of gold.
Next, take a brief detour by turning right on Monte de Piedad to see another classic Mexican square, the Plaza de Santo Domingo. The church is worth a short visit. Then return to Donceles and then beyond it, past the Zocalo, and then turn right onto Avenida Francisco Madera. Approximately one-half kilometer ahead, on the right, is the Casa de los Azulejos, the House of Tiles. It was built as a palace in the 16th century and then covered with tiles in the following century. Be sure to check out the beautiful, Moorish interior, as well.
A bit further ahead, on the left, is the Torre Latinoamericana, a 600-foot tall tower with fantastic views from its observation floors. Across the next street and to the right is the elegant building that houses the Museum of Fine Arts. The exterior is Art Nouveau while the interior is decidedly Art Deco.
Continue west, after your visit, on the same street, although its name has become Avenida Benito Juarez. At the junction with Paseo de la Reforma, look for the interesting, yellow sculpture, El Caballito, in front of the tall, dark building.
Now, turn left onto Mexico City’s most famous thoroughfare, the broad, tree-lined Paseo de la Reforma. This section of the grand avenue travels about two miles to Chapultepec Park and contains numerous statues and fountains along the way.
At the first major intersection, there is a statue of Christopher Columbus. If you are not already intimidated by the length of the walk, you can take a short detour to the north, on Ignacio Ramirez, to see the Revolution Monument.
The next major intersection along the Paseo de la Reforma sports a monument to the final Aztec emperor, Cuauhtemoc. Here, turn half-left onto Avenida Insurgentes Sur, and then right on Hamburgo. You are now in the Zona Rosa, a pedestrian-only area, filled with shops, restaurants, and hotels. You can explore several of the streets as you work your way southwest. Turn right when you reach Florenca, to return to Paseo de la Reforma.
At the boulevard, you will find the symbol of Mexico City, the Angel of Independence, atop the Independence Monument. Turn left onto Reforma to continue the walk. Ahead is the statue of Diana, the Huntress, and, beyond that, the entrance to Chapultepec Park.
You could spend an entire day in the park, but, for the purpose of brevity, limit your exploration to just a few attractions. To your left, as Reforma enters the park, at the top of the hill, is Chapultepec Castle, former residence of the Mexican rulers, but now a museum of Mexican history.
To the right of the boulevard is the National Museum of Anthropology, one of the finest museums of its kind in the world. Return later, when you have the necessary 2-3 hours, to check out its vast collections.Reverse direction to exit the park and turn right on Avenida Rodano and then left onto Avenida Chapultepec. When you reach the Plaza Comercio, turn right onto Arcos de Belen, which soon becomes Jose Maria Izazaga. At 20 de Noviembre, turn left to return to the Zocalo, where the walk began.