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Mexico City´s Zócalo, one of the largest city squares on the planet, is both the modern and ancient centre of the city. It´s constantly alive with people and pulsing with the rhythmic beating of drums, shaking feathers and beads of indigenous dancers, and strange smelling smoke, wafted about by wild-haired soul healers. Thousands of demonstrators (both clothed and otherwise) have gathered here to protest against government corruption, the outcome of presidential elections or to show their support for indigenous peoples´ rights.


The world´s largest church, the Catedral Metropolitana, is slowly losing its battle to muddy ground and is sinking on the square´s northern side. You can find the Templo Mayor- the ruins of the ceremonial centre of the Aztec city of Tenochititlan- just behind the cathedral on the right. The Palacio Nacional, on the eastern side of the plaza, has some impressive Diego Rivera murals on its stairwells, which show Rivera´s vision of a future Mexican Socialist utopia alongside all the major players in Mexican history: Quetzalcoatl, Cortés, Hidalgo and Pancho Villa stand alongside Karl Marx and Frida Kahlo, who is clutching the Communist manifesto. It´s from the balcony of the Palacio that the President of the Republic proclaims the Grito de la Independencia to commemorate Mexican Independence on September 15, signaling the beginning of nationwide drinking and partying.


On the southern side of the zócalo is the Ayuntamiento (town hall), where the city government administers local affairs. Just alongside is the 19th century Gran Hotel (Avenida 16 de Septiembre 82) with its stunning lobby, stained glass dome and kitsch old elevators.


The west side of the zócalo is mainly filled with overpriced jewelry shops and arcades. The huge National Pawn Shop, el Nacional Monte de Piedad, built on the grounds of Moctezuma´s palace on the north-west corner of the square, is worth a visit to check out both the variety of spangly goods and the hawk-nosed bargain hunters on the prowl.


Other neighborhoods in Mexico City: South Of The Center, North Of The Center, Roma, Zona Rosa, Calzada De Tlalpan, Condesa, San Ángel , La Alameda Central and Polanco.

05 Jan 2009

Things to do in Zócalo

Palacio del Ayuntamiento

129617In 1720 the impressive Palacio del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) that today dominates the entire southern side of the Zócalo was rebuilt after a fire destroyed the original, constructed over the ruins of ...
Historical Building
Zócalo, Mexico City, Mexico

Nacional Monte de Piedad

The Nacional Monte de Piedad (Mountain of Compassion) is Latin America’s biggest pawn shop and is over 200 years old. The front rooms are always full of crowds of people attempting to flog their ...
Historical Building
Zócalo, Mexico City, Mexico
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