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Mexico City Vacation and Travel Guide
Mexico City, or City of Mexico, is the capital and most populous city of Mexico. Mexico City is one of the most important financial centers in the Americas. It is the capital of Mexico and is popular with tourists as an ancient Meso-American city. It is located in the Valley of Mexico, a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 7,350 ft. The city consists of sixteen municipalities.
Mexico City is served by Mexico City International Airport (IATA Airport Code: MEX). This airport is Latin America's second busiest and one of the largest in traffic, with daily flights to United States and Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Asia.
Mexico City is the departure point for visits to the ancient city of Teotihuacan, famous for the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. Other human-made tourist zones, such as the La Zona Rosa or Shopping District and El Zócalo (one of the largest public plazas in the world) are here.
The city of Mexico is also home to the Plaza de Toros México, the world's largest bullring, and to the Mexican National Palace, built on the site of Montezuma's palace, and the huge Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest in the Western Hemisphere, built over the even greater Temple of Teocalli. Mexico City features the notableNational Museum of Anthropology and History.
The Historic Center of Mexico City and the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco in the southern borough have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Famous landmarks in the Historic Center include the Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo), the main central square with its epoch-contrasting Spanish-era Metropolitan Cathedral and National Palace, ancient Aztec temple ruins Templo Mayor ("Major Temple") and modern structures, all within a few steps of one another. (The Templo Mayor was discovered in 1978 while workers were digging to place underground electric cables).
The most recognizable icon of Mexico City is the Golden Angel of Independence on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma, modeled by the order of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico after the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
This avenue was designed over the Americas' oldest known major roadway in the 19th century to connect the National Palace (seat of government) with the Castle of Chapultepec, the imperial residence.
Today, this avenue is an important financial district in which the Mexican Stock Exchange and several corporate headquarters are located. Another important avenue is the Avenida de los Insurgentes, which extends 17.9 mi, and is one of the longest single avenues in the world.
Chapultepec Park houses the Chapultepec Castle, now a museum on a hill that overlooks the park and its numerous museums, monuments and the National Zoo and the National Museum of Anthropology (which houses the Aztec Calendar Stone).
Another piece of architecture is the Fine Arts Palace, a white marble theatre/museum whose weight is such that it has gradually been sinking into the soft ground below. The Plaza of the Three Cultures in the Tlatelolco neighbourhood, and the shrine and Basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe are also important sites.
There is a double-decker bus, known as the "Turibus", that circles most of these sites, and has timed audio describing the sites in multiple languages as they are passed.
Museums of Mexico City
Mexico City has about 160 museums, the world's greatest single metropolitan concentration, over 100 art galleries, and some 30 concert halls, all of which maintain a constant cultural activity during the whole year.
Most of Mexico City's museums can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, although some of them have extended schedules, such as the Museum of Anthropology and History, which is open to 7 pm. In addition to this, entrance to most museums is free on Sunday. In some cases a modest fee may be charged.
It has one of the highest number of theatres in the world after New York, London and perhaps Toronto. Many areas (e.g. Palacio Nacional and the National Institute of Cardiology) have murals painted by Diego Rivera. He and his wife Frida Kahlo lived in Coyoacán, where several of their homes, studios, and art collections are open to the public. The house where Leon Trotsky was initially granted asylum and finally murdered in 1940 is also in Coyoacán.
Mexico City has numerous museums dedicated to art, including Mexican colonial, modern and contemporary art, and international art. The Museo Tamayo was opened in the mid-1980s to house the collection of international contemporary art donated by famed Mexican (born in the state of Oaxaca) painter Rufino Tamayo. The collection includes pieces by Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky, Warhol and many others, though most of the collection is stored while visiting exhibits are shown.
Museum of Modern Art (The Museo de Arte Moderno) is a repository of Mexican artists from the 20th century, including Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros, Kahlo, Gerzso, Carrington, Tamayo, among others, and also regularly hosts temporary exhibits of international modern art. In southern Mexico City, the Museo Carrillo Gil (Carrillo Gil Museum) showcases avant-garde artists, as does the University Museum/Contemporary Art (Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo – or MUAC), designed by famed Mexican architect Teodoro González de León, inaugurated in late 2008.
The Museo Soumaya, named after the wife of Mexican magnate Carlos Slim, has the largest private collection of original Rodin sculptures outside Paris. It also has a large collection of Dalí sculptures, and recently began showing pieces in its masters collection including El Greco, Velázquez, Picasso and Canaletto. The museum inaugurated a new futuristic-design facility in 2011 just north of Polanco, while maintaining a smaller facility in Plaza Loreto in southern Mexico City.
The Colección Júmex is a contemporary art museum located on the sprawling grounds of the Jumex juice company in the northern industrial suburb of Ecatepec. It is said to have the largest private contemporary art collection in Latin America and hosts pieces from its permanent collection as well as traveling exhibits by leading contemporary artists.
The new Museo Júmex in Nuevo Polanco was slated to open in November 2013. The Museo de San Ildefonso, housed in the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City's historic downtown district is a 17th-century colonnaded palace housing an art museum that regularly hosts world-class exhibits of Mexican and international art. Recent exhibits have included those on David LaChapelle, Antony Gormley and Ron Mueck.
The National Museum of Art (Museo Nacional de Arte) is also located in a former palace in the historic center. It houses a large collection of pieces by all major Mexican artists of the last 400 years and also hosts visiting exhibits.
Mexico City Cuisine
Mexico City offers a variety of cuisines. Restaurants specializing in the regional cuisines of Mexico's 31 states are available in the city. Also available are an array of international cuisines, including Canadian, French, Italian, Croatian, Spanish (including many regional variations), Jewish, Lebanese, Chinese (again with regional variations), Indian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese; and of course fellow Latin American cuisines such as Argentine, Brazilian, and Peruvian. Haute, fusion, kosher, vegetarian and vegan cuisines are also available, as are restaurants solely based on the concepts of local food and slow Food.
Map of Mexico City