The Distrito Federal, or Mexico City as it is called in English, has no comparison when it comes to other cities in Mexico. It is truly the capital in every sense of the word. With over 20 million people, it is not only many times larger than any other city in Mexico, but also the second most populous city in the world, just behind Tokyo.
There has been a capital here since before the arrival of the Spanish. Unfortunately, virtually all of the old Aztec city of Tenoctitlan was destroyed by the Spanish in their zeal to convert the Indians to Christianity and erasetheir past. One impressive remain, however, El Templo Mayor, still survives. This is what’s left of the Great Temple of the Aztecs. The ruin sits off the northeast corner of the Zocalo, the city’s massive main square. Everything about the Zocalo is big. Here rests the Metropolitan Cathedral, said to be the largest in the western hemisphere, and the National Palace, where hundreds of thousands of people gather every September 15 to celebrate Father Hidalgo’s call for Independence. Inside the palace are several murals by the great Diego Rivera.
When it comes to museums, few cities compare to the Mexican Capital. In terms of structures alone, the city itself is a living museum with over two thousand historical buildings, almost all of them in the area immediately surround the Zocalo. The National Art Museum, the Anthropology Museum, the Rufino Tamayo and Diego Rivera museums – there are dozens, all of them good.
In a city of 20 million, fresh air is obviously a scarcity. To get it, the best place to go is Chapultepec Park, a sprawling 550 acre park to the east of the city center. Inside the park is the city zoo and several more museums. Another prime reason to visit the city is that it is a perfect jumping off zone for some of Mexico’s greatest attractions. Only an hour away is Teotihuacan, an enormous pre-Columbian city that dates back 500 years before Christ. An hour and a half away is the Cuernavaca, the equivalent of the Hamptons for Mexico City’s wealthy. Cuernavaca is a romantic mountain city with bougainvillea covered walls, aqueducts, and near-perfect weather.