Mexico City Overview
Steeped in history and culture, jaw-dropping scenery and exploding with bright colours and flamboyant costumes during Fiesta, Mexico City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With a population of more than 20 million people, the region is a rare combination of bustling city life with a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. Once home to the ancient Aztec civilisation, this thriving city was built atop Lake Texcoco circa 1325 A.D. with Tenochtitlan serving as its capital. During the Spanish Conquests of 1521, however, the city was destroyed and Mexico City was built. Fortunately, the remains of the once-great Aztec city were not totally erased and over the decades, archaeologists have unearthed significant artefacts from this ancient civilisation.
Today, this wondrous metropolis attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and boasts a plethora of attractions to entice people of any age group and all interests. In addition to the capital's vast selection of museums and historical sites, Mexico City is also renowned for its excellent restaurants, vibrant nightlife and stunning architecture. The Historic Centre and the Zocalo square are overlooked by the magnificent Cathedral of Mexico, the oldest and largest cathedral throughout Latin-America. The centre is also home to a myriad of architectural gems such as the National Palace, the seat of the Federal Executive, on the west side of the square.
During the daytime, the square is also bustling with street traders and artisans offering their handcrafted artwork, jewellery and pottery. By nightfall, the Historic Centre's bars, restaurants and clubs open their doors to the public and the air is filled with the aroma of traditional Mexican cuisine and the sound of Mariachi music. Mexico City hosts more fiestas than any other city in the world; from Festival de México in March -- where more than 50 venues across the city stage music, dance and opera -- to the Day of the Dead festival in November, festivals take place in Mexico City all year round.
Things to Do
Mexico City really is a cornucopia of attractions and places of interests. From shopping in the street markets to dining out in the finest restaurants, partying in the trendiest nightclubs to exploring some of the most significant archaeological finds in the world -- this vibrant city boasts something for everyone.
For the shopaholics
The Plaza La Ciudadela hosts the Citadel Market, one of the most visited in the region. Visitors to the market will be impressed by the broad spectrum of goods offered by artisans and craftsman from around the city. From handcrafted musical instruments to silk shawls, home-baked bread to beautiful jewellery. Not only does this market offer a fine selection of goods, but the prices are extremely competitive. Centro Comercial Santa Fe, the largest shopping mall in Latin-America with more than 300 stores, houses many exclusive and prestigious brands such as Armani, Channel and Marc Jacobs. Additionally, there is a children's play area, ice rink and cinema.
For the foodies
In the centre of the Polanquito neighbourhood lies Comedor Jacinta, newly opened by chef Edgar Nuñez. This fine restaurant boasts an impressive menu and has become renowned in a very short time for the chef's signature dishes such as barbacoa casserole and steak in pasilla sauce. Mia Domenica, situated in Roma, is famed for its organic pink mushrooms cooked in butter and garlic. This premier restaurant is owned by chef Lucho Martinez and has earned a reputation as Mexico City's foremost eatery.
For the clubbers
Hailed as one of the best clubs in Mexico City, M.N. Roy is situated in central Roma and attracts the rich and even the famous. Dance the night away to the electronic music while enjoying one of the many cocktails on the bar's impressive drinks menu. Situated next to the Glorieta de la Cibeles, Club Social Rhodesia offers three floors with three different genres of music: rock, dance and pop.
For the history enthusiasts
The National Museum of Anthropology houses no fewer than 23 rooms of exhibits. The museum spans more than 79,000 square meters and the curations depict the history and culture of the Aztecs, Toltec, Maya and Olmec. At the summit of Chapultepec Hill, a site deemed sacred by the Aztecs, sits the majestic and outstanding Chapultepec Castle. Built circa 1800, the castle overlooks the most stunning gardens which visitors are free to stroll through after viewing the castle.
For the sports enthusiasts
Wrestling is one of Mexico City's most popular sports. Lucha Libre, as the sport is known by the locals, is hosted at the Arena Mexico or Arena Coliseo and spectators are encouraged to enjoy a shot of Tequila while enjoying the flamboyantly dressed, masked wrestlers contend. Basque Pelota -- a broad spectrum of sports using a ball in court, such as with a racket, bat or hands -- is enjoyed by the residents of Mexico City, and events are hosted throughout the region.
Calendar of Events
Irrespective of the month or season, Mexico City will be hosting an event or festival. The festivities range from religious celebrations to cultural and indigenous affairs as well as music and dance festivals and the celebrations of art and crafts; the list is endless.
Festival de Mexico en el Centro Historico. The festival of Mexico takes place every March and was established in 1985 as a means to raise funds to restore the architecture of Mexico centre. The event is considered to be one of the most important of the city's cultural celebrations and festival goers will be treated to an explosion of brightly coloured, flamboyant costumes and regalia.
Semana Santa. This is one of the most significant religious festivals in the city and hosted in the Iztapalapa district. Holy week, as it is known, focuses on the passion of Christ, with re-enactments taking place in the district and parades at the city's churches.
Banderas Bay Regatta and Nautical Festival. This event spans five days and involves competitive boat racing. The festival also takes place in March and festival goers will be treated to live music and evening entertainment.
Whale Shark Festival. The Whale Shark Festival takes place in July and is a celebration of local culture and cuisine. Among the many activities, participants can enjoy snorkelling and swim with whale sharks.
Mariachi Festival. This music Festival occurs in September and is a celebration of the genre. Artists from around the world take part in the competitions and perform for the onlookers.