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In Photos: Walking tour of the Centro Historical – Mexico City

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Diego Riviera's mural at the Palacio National

Diego Riviera’s mural at the Palacio National

With just one day to spend in the town centre we were advised to take the Big Red Bus and rush all over the city. Instead we decided to stay in and around the town square, taking in a few of the main sights of the Centro Historical.

Zocalo in Mexico City

Zocalo in Mexico City

The city is centred around the Plaza de la Constitution, but everything from locals to official guide maps and the nearby subway stop call it the Zócalo.

Zócalo means base, and comes from the huge monument planned to be built in the square – they only got around to building the base so the name was adopted as a dig at the government.

Catedral Metropolitano de la Asuncion de Maria

Catedral Metropolitano de la Asuncion de Maria

Our hotel bordered the Alameda Park, home to the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Just along from here we emerged into the Zócalo, right alongside the Catedral Metropolitano de la Asuncion de Maria. After years of earthquakes and floods the front of the cathedral has a decided lean, but repairs have been completed so it’s safe for now.

Catedral Metropolitano de la Asuncion de Maria

Inside Catedral Metropolitano de la Asuncion de Maria

The cathedral was built in the mid-1600s and is one of the oldest churches in the Americas. The inside wasn’t very busy, but silence is expected so as not to disturb the worshippers.

Palacio National

Palacio National

Across the road from the cathedral is the Palacio National, not only an art museum but home to a number of government offices. Entrance is free and well worth an hour.

Mural in the passageways of the Palacio National

One of the many murals in the passageways of the Palacio National

Inside, the passageways surrounding the courtyard are decorated by the works of Diego Rivera (husband of Frida Kahlo). The main stairway between levels has a giant mural showing major events throughout Mexican history.

Looking down at the Palacio National

Looking down at the Palacio National

Templo Meyor

Our last last stop on a day sightseeing in Mexico City lay between the previous two attractions – an alleyway round the side of the cathedral leads to a ticket office for the Templo Mayor.

The site is closed on Mondays, so we had to rush back the following morning.

Mexico City Visitor Tips

I hadn’t taken into account the sudden change in altitude – Mexico City is at 2240m (7350ft) above sea level. The lack of oxygen, combined with the very dry atmosphere, made walking around on the first day very tiring. As it’s the capital, rehydration drinks and cafes are available everywhere, and much appreciated. Maybe the bus tour wasn’t such a bad idea after all!

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Author

Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.

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