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Mexico City Travel Blog: Mexico City destination guide


Mexico City is brimming with important structures from the centuries past. Here are some of the historical sites in Mexico City that can tickle your interest:


Historical Sites in Mexico City – Alameda Central

Identified as the oldest public park in Mexico City, Alameda Central is on the site of what used to be a bustling Aztec marketplace. It was developed in 1592, under the orders of Viceroy Luis de Velasco II. It became a site for the public burning of witches and other prisoners convicted during the Inquisition period in Mexico. Since then, it has become a venue for concerts, theatrical performances and art exhibitions.

Historical Sites in Mexico City – Basílica de Guadalupe

Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is home to a cloak with an impression of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The first structure in the basilica complex was initially constructed in the 17th century and completed in the 18th century. In 1921, a bomb exploded near the altar and caused severe damage to the interiors of the structure. The famous cloak remained unharmed and remained in the original basilica until 1974, when a new basilica was constructed next to the old one when the latter was deemed unsafe for use due to the decline of its foundations.

Historical Sites in Mexico City – Casa de los Azulejos

Casa de los Azulejos or House of Tiles is most famous for its façade covered with blue and white tiles from the Puebla state of Mexico. The palace changed hands a number of times before it was finally acquired by the Sanborns late in the 19th century. The Sanborns spent two years remodeling the palace, adding a stained-glass roof to cover the main courtyard, new floors and a peacock mural by the Romanian painter, Pacologue. In 1931, the 18th century Baroque palace was recognized as a national monument. A restaurant at the palace courtyard now dominates the entire establishment.


Castillo de Chapultepec

Chapultepec Castle sits on top of its namesake hill and offers wonderful views of Mexico City from its impressive terraces. Initially constructed as a summerhouse for the viceroy, the castle has served a slew of purposes throughout its history, including being a gunpowder warehouse, a military academy, an Imperial residence, a Presidential home and an observatory. Presently, it is home to the National Museum of History. Neo-romanticism, Neoclassical and Neo-gothic  themes dominate the architectural style of Chapultepec Castle.

Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México

Recognized as the oldest and largest Roman Catholic cathedral in Latin America, the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral rises on site of what was the sacred precinct of the Aztec Templo Mayor. Officially known as Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos, the Metropolitan Cathedral was built section by section from the 16th to the 19th century. The length of time taken to build the cathedral, along with the contributions of several architects, masters and artists of the viceroyalty, resulted to the mix of Gothic, Plateresque, Baroque and Neoclassical influences on its architectural style.

La Enseñanza

Found in Mexico City’s historic center, the church is of Churrigueresque style and is recognized as the finest example of Baroque in Mexico. Most people refer to Capilla de Nuestra Señora del Pilar as La Enseñanza or the Teaching Church due to the convent formerly associated with it, El Convento de la Enseñanza La Antigua. The convent was closed following the 1867 Reform War and was converted into a penal facility. Throughout the years, the convent served as a Palace of Justice, General Notary Archive and Ministry of Education offices. It reopened as a place of worship in 1974 and  has remained as such since then.

Palacio de Correos de México

Also referred to as Palacio Postal and Correo Mayor, Palacio de Correos de México is found in the historic center of the city. Built in 1907, the structure features an eclectic style that fuses several design traditions, the most dominant of which is Neo-Plateresque. In the 1950s, the Bank of Mexico in the neighboring building occupied a large portion of of Palacio Postal, leading to the construction of two bridges to connect the two buildings. This caused a lot of strain on the steel structure of Palacio Postal and in 1985, it was severely damaged when an earthquake hit the city. The building was restored to its original appearance in the 1990s. The building continues to function as a post office. It also housed the Naval Historical Museum until 2013.

Palacio Nacional

Located at Plaza de la Constitución, the National Palace serves as the seat of Mexico’s federal executive. It has housed the ruling class since the times of the Aztec Empire. The site of the current palace, along with most of its building materials, is from the “New Houses” of Moctezuma II. It has seen a number of reconstructions and renovations over the centuries, and presently reflects the Spanish influence in the region.

Plaza de la Constitución

Commonly known as The Zócalo, Plaza de la Constitución is the main square of central Mexico City. It dates back before the colonial period in Mexico, when it was the primary ceremonial center of Tenochtitlan, an Aztec city. Since then, it has always been a venue for gathering for Mexicans. It has witnessed several viceroy inductions, military parades, royal proclamations, Mexican ceremonies, national protests and national celebrations.

Plaza de las Tres Culturas

Named to commemorate the three periods of Mexico’s history as seen on the buildings surrounding the plaza, the Square of the Three Cultures is the archaeological location of the Tlatelolco city-state. It is also where the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre took place. A stone memorial was erected on the southern side of the square to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the infamous massacre.

Templo Mayor

Belonging to the Post-classic period of Mesoamerican architectural style, the Templo Mayor served as the main temple in Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. These days, artifacts discovered during the archaeological excavation of the temple are now on display at the museum on the site of the ancient temple complex. Visiting the excavation site allows one to view models of Tenochtitlan, the sacred precinct, and Templo Mayor. Ruins of the ancient temple can also be explored on site.