History of Mexico City

Historia de la ciudad de Mexico
Mexico City, former Tenochtitlan, a thriving city, is the capital of the United Mexican States or Mexican Republic. It is the city with the highest demographic index in Latin America and ninth in the world. Its overwhelming pace of growth is an eternal challenge of uncontrollable urban expansion. Its cultural richness, its prolific museums, its ancestral history and its picturesque places position it in one of the most interesting cities to visit in the Americas and the world. Then we will take you into the most peculiar places that Mexico City has to offer.

Table of Contents


The history of Mexico City dates back to ancient times of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica. According to historical sources the foundation of the city was given at the beginning of the fourteenth century by the Mexicans called Mexico-Tenochtitlan becoming the capital of the Mexican or Aztec Empire. In 1521 the empire falls under the yoke of the Spaniards under the command of Hernán Cortés beginning what is known as the Viceregal era, creating by 1535 officially the Viceroyalty of New Spain with Mexico City as capital, displacing and building above the old Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

It was the political, economic and financial center of the territories conquered by the Spanish in North America. In 1821 the independence of the Spanish crown was declared with the triumphant entry into the city of the army of the Three Guarantees. From 1823 it was constituted as a Republic and the Federal District was created along with six other municipalities, with Mexico City as the place of concentration of the public powers of the Federation.

Mexico City, a great Museum

Mexico City is a surprising city for the profuse exhibition and promotion of art and culture. Its museum activity is overwhelming because it has one hundred and fifty-one museums, the second city in the world with the largest number of museums after the city of London. Its millenary history, its archaeological wealth, the vitality of its artists and avant-garde movements gave it that heritage value that it treasures in each of its spaces and that earned it numerous recognitions from UNESCO. The offer in this sense ranges from the archaeological, anthropological, ethnic and popular to colonial, modern and contemporary art.

In the Polanco neighborhood, Carso square, we got the Soumaya Museum which houses the private collection of the Carlos Slim Foundation. This Museum, named after the wife of the tycoon in question, stands out for its avant-garde architectural design and has the largest collection of Auguste Rodin outside his hometown of Paris. There are also works of modern and contemporary art by famous artists such as El Greco, Dalí, Picasso, among others. The Jumex Museum has the largest private collection of contemporary art in Latin America in addition to traveling exhibitions of avant-garde artists.

In the historic center of the city we find spaces such as the old San Ildefonso School as well as the National Museum of Art with exhibitions of Mexican art. Going further towards the Zócalo in the Plaza de la Alameda, you will find the Museum of Memory and Tolerance with an innovative concept of history, not from the past, but with a future perspective interpreting the injustices committed in world conflicts.

We can not fail to mention the museum activity offered by the Palace of Fine Arts in the Plaza de la Alameda of the Historic Center. Conceived as an institution that runs art, culture, in addition to having the most important performance hall in Mexico, it houses the Museum of the Palace of Fine Arts after changing its name twice. There are 17 works exhibited by the famous Mexican Muralist movement by artists such as Diego de Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo and others. Traveling exhibitions of classical, modern and contemporary art are also organized with national and foreign artists.

On the fourth floor we find the National Museum of Architecture, promoter of Mexican architectural heritage. At one end of the Palace of Fine Arts is the Franz Mayer Museum and a block further south, the Museum of Popular Art where exhibitions of elements of Mexican folklore such as masks, costumes and typical objects are held.

The Chapultepec Forest, green lung of the city, is a large museum park, as well as being a place of recreation with its boat rides. The Chapultepec Castle, which is a museum in itself because it has been used as a presidential residence since the time of Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Carlota, runs the National Museum of History. Also in the vicinity of the forest is also the Anthropological Museum with exhibitions of pieces of pre-Hispanic art and the Snail Museum that walks us through the history of Mexico in a didactic way.

We can also locate the Museum of Modern Art that houses temporary exhibitions of international modern art, as well as works by Mexican artists of the last century such as the famous muralists Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros, Tamayo, as well as Khalo, Izquierdo and others. In the same way the Tamayo Museum which was inaugurated with the purpose of hosting works of international contemporary art donated by the Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo and where works by Picasso, Andy Warhol, Kandinsky, Paul Klee and some more are exhibited.

If we go to the south of the city, we will get to the exclusive neighborhood of Coyoacán, depository of several museums. The Frida Khalo House Museum as one of the most visited, the Museum of Interventions that tells the armed incursion of the armies of the United States and France in Mexican territory, the House of Leon Trotsky and the National Museum of Popular Cultures that exposes pieces of Mexican folklore. South of Coyoacán we will get the Diego Rivera-Anauacalli Museum, where the pieces of pre-Columbian art collected by the painter are exhibited.

If we go to the San Ángel neighborhood we will find the Casa Estudio of Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo, differentiating with the blue and pink buildings united by the bridge as the highly passionate and creative relationship of these two famous Mexican artists. To continue with the transcendence of this couple in the history of Mexican art, we moved to Xochimilco and got the Dolores Olmedo Museum, a beautiful hacienda depository of the Rivera-Khalo artistic legacy and that its patron consolidated in these spaces.

From the Plaza del Zócalo and beyond

Every visitor for the first time is welcomed by the monumentality of the Plaza del Zócalo as the nerve center and heart of the capital. This space is a premonitory of the grandeur offered by the city to visit it in its entirety. On one side you are greeted by the National Palace with the murals of Diego Rivera to tell you the history of Mexico and its birth as a country. On the other side of the Zócalo, stands majestic the Metropolitan Cathedral with its eclectic style and behind it the Templo Mayor, ceremonial enclosure of the ancient Tenochtitlan, converted into a Museum.

Following the tour of the center in the direction of Chapultepec we will stop to observe iconic buildings of the city such as Palacio Iturbide, Casa de los Azulejos and Palacio de la Minería. Continuing towards the Alameda, the Latin American Tower will stand out with its peculiar design in the form of a lighthouse. In it you will find a city vitality such as restaurants, bars and its viewpoint. In the Alameda you will find the Palace of Fine Arts and the Mural Museum of Diego Rivera where the painter tells a moment of life in the spaces of the Alameda.

Moving from the Alameda to a few streets, there is the Plaza Garibaldi, a must to enjoy the typical Mexican ranchera music performed by Mariachi groups. In the afternoon they arrive at the square to sing their songs and receive the contributions of tourists who visit it. You can also enjoy the Museum of Tequila and Mezcal and appreciate the manufacture of this typical Mexican drink.

Continuing south of the Alameda we will find the San Juan market and the Handicrafts Market of the Citadel where you can buy souvenirs of your visit to the city. Further on in the Place de la Sightseeing will be the Monument to the Revolution and the Paseo de la Reforma, built in the Parisian style in the time of Maximilian and where you will delight in the sculpture of the Angel of Independence.

To the south of the city on Avenida los Insurgentes will be the imposing mural, the largest made by any painter with his spectacular play of lights, Polyforum Siqueiros, by mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros.

In Xochimilco it is inevitable to walk in the picturesque trajineras, species of profusely colorful barges, in the canals that remain of the great lake where the ancient city of Tenochtitlan was settled. Memorable in the historical anecdote the walks that Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera made in this kind of Mexican Venice.

On the tour you can not miss visiting the grounds of the University City with its Olympic Stadium, the Universum, the Nezahualcóyotl Hall and the Rectory Building.

Shows & Entertainment

The National Auditorium located on the Paseo de la Reforma is the main space for the presentation of contemporary shows as well as the Lunario that is of smaller capacity. The city has spaces called arenas of shows where concerts, sports and circus take place. The most important are the Arena Mexico for the presentation of wrestling, the Palacio de los Deportes Arena built for the 1968 Olympics and the Arena Ciudad de México, a new and modern entertainment venue. As an option of nightly entertainment for dancing and dining are the Roma and Condesa neighborhoods of peculiar architectural style, with bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

Sports Venues

Mexico City has three football stadiums where one of the most popular sports in the country is played: the Azteca Stadium where American football is also played, the Blue Stadium and the University Olympic Stadium hosted the Olympics in 1968. The capital is home to three top division football teams: Club América, Club Universidad Nacional and Club Azul. The Foro Sol is the venue where the Mexican Baseball League is played. In the Palacio de los Deportes basketball matches are held with Capitanes de Ciudad de México as the capital team. The Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez has been the scene of Formula 1 with the Mexican Grand Prix race.

Popular Culture and Traditional Festivals

Mexico City is the repository of a whole cultural and religious mixture expressed in festivities and that mobilizes thousands of people for its celebration. Religious festivities such as the Representation of the Passion of Jesus in Iztapalapa, the pilgrimages to the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Day of the Dead in Mixquic, in addition to the celebration of Mexican Independence Day in the Plaza del Zócalo. In the Plaza México, the largest in the world, the rooting that the city has for the bullfight takes place. The Fair of Friendly Cultures is a new international festival that takes place on the Paseo de la Reforma. Many countries are integrated into this fair with exhibitions that allow to publicize the relevance of their culture.


Mexico City offers a range of possibilities in the gastronomic area. Cafes, restaurants, international food, haute cuisine and Mexican cuisine from all over the country. In the streets it is common to find sales of the famous Mexican snacks, the tlacoyo that is a kind of corn cake stuffed with beans, beans or cottage cheese. The typical steak tacos and quesadillas with pumpkin flower, huitlacoche, potatoes with chorizo and other stews. They are also the tortas de tamal or guajolotas de raja with salsa verde, while naming the chili as the quintessential ingredient of Mexican food.

From Mexico to the world

The Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City is the most important in the Republic and one with the highest traffic in Latin America with connections to major cities in South America, North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. In this way the capital city of Mexico becomes the first option within a travel itinerary that you will never forget.


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Historia de la ciudad de Mexico

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