Photo: Northeast Corner
Mexico City boasts one of the most storied plazas in the world.
The Zócalo is the place to go to visit the Templo Mayor, National Palace and National Cathedral and is the heart of the Centro Historico, Mexico City and the nation itself.
The Zócalo is bounded on the north by Cinco de Mayo, on the east by Pino Suárez, on the south by 16 de Septiembre and on the West by Monte de Piedad. If you arrive by metro, your first view will be dramatic as you ascend into the public plaza.
What does Zócalo mean?
Colonial cities in Mexico were laid out in a grid fashion with a plaza at the center.
The word ‘zócalo’ means ‘pedestal’ and usage dates back to a planned monument that was never completed beyond the pedestal. Nevertheless, the word was used not only to describe Mexico City’s plaza but most plazas throughout the country.
Suggestions for Visitors
While the center of town is becoming greener, there’s still not much shade in the Centro, so bring a hat and some water. If you need to escape the sun, duck into a museum or stand in the spindle of shade created by the flagpole.
The Spanish ordered that the stones from the Aztec would be used to construct the church. Construction of the Cathedral began in 1573 and was completed in 1667. There are 5 naves and 14 chapels. The last modification was in 1813 by Manuel Tolsá.
The building boasts the murals of Diego Rivera. Inside the palace is a neglected garden and the museum dedicated to Benito Juárez. You will need a photo ID to enter.
Northeast corner of the Zócalo
Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento (Old City Hall)
South side of the Zócalo
Formerly the headquarters of city government until 2018, part of the old palace is now a museum. Wikipedia
Merchants on the west side sell gold jewelry. There are numerous cafés. Above are rooftop restaurants with great views of the plaza.
A few words about the Centro
The entire centro has received a face-lift. Buildings have been scrubbed with high-pressure water jets and repainted. Many of the pedestrian streets have stone pavement and the sidewalks have been reconstructed. It’s all part of an ongoing renovation.