Senior Travel to Mexico City

Mar 1st, 2011 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel

Mexico City (MC) is one of the oldest cities in the Americas. The Distrito Federal (Mexico City, also known as ‘DF’) (elevation: 7,350 feet) is the political hub of Mexico. MC is today a dynamic global business center, and a unique and authentic cultural and tourism destination. It is a modern city that offers visitors a wealth of experiences – from important museum collections, to exciting art galleries and performance centers, to memorable restaurants, shopping and nightlife.

More than 12 million persons visit MC every year. The city has been home to indigenous populations and Spanish colonial rule, and is today a modern, cosmopolitan and diverse city. Foreign Policy magazine ranked MC as one of the world’s Top 10 cultural destinations and that is a good enough reason for seniors to pack their bags and head south to MC.

The greater MC metropolitan area, which includes several surrounding municipalities (known as the Federal District of Mexico), totals 22+ million residents. MC was built on the ruins of the ancient city of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the mighty Aztec empire and is a World Heritage Site.  A downtown portion of the city comprises almost 700 blocks and 1,500 buildings. 

The diversity of MC’s attractions springs from its complex history. From simple bustling mercados to museums filled with treasures of artistic and historic significance. MC has layers upon layers of cultural richness to explore. Our guide told our group that quite often when builders dig almost anywhere in the city they hit ancient Aztec ruins.

The heart of the historic center is the Plaza de la Constitución known locally as the Zócalo, one of the world’s largest urban squares with 10 acres. It is huge and in the center they fly a huge Mexican flag.  El Zócalo has been the prime gathering point for MC residents over many decades.  The square is bordered by the National Palace, the Aztec ruins of the Templo Mayor and the Metropolitan Cathedral (Latin America’s largest Catholic Church).

The Paseo de la Reforma is MC’s major avenue. It bisects the city from east to west, and features numerous traffic circles, fountains and historic monuments, including the Independence Column, where El Ángel – the monument to Mexico’s independence –sits atop a 120 foot column. To experience the Venice of MC, spend an afternoon at the floating gardens of Xochimilco, (pronounced so-she-MIL-co). In the Náhuatl language of the Aztecs the name Xochimilco means ‘garden of flowers.’ 

Two hours southeast of MC is the city of Puebla, known as the City of Angels and is a World Heritage Site famed for its tile-embellished colonial-era buildings and its cuisine.

There are always seem to be TEN SIGHTS TO SEE in every major city.  Here is the MC list of choices and I agree with all of them. And there are always the Free Sites and Attractions to take in as well. 

Another Complete Guide to MC lists just about everything you will need to know as a first-time visitor. I liked their Tips that included: Be very careful of telephone rip offs!  There are many ways for unscrupulous individuals or companies to take advantage of tourists and business travelers. Some phone booths in México charge as much as $20.00 (U.S.) per minute for long distance.  It’s true.  You can buy a telephone card online for making calls back to the states from Mexico and I highly advise purchasing one unless you have an international cell phone.

Another major highlight for tourists is the National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologia) Museum that contains the world’s largest collection of ancient Mexican art and also has ethnographic exhibits about Mexico’s present-day indigenous groups.  One could easily spend an entire day here.  

MC is home to great artistic and cultural happenings. Beyond the city’s many great museums, which feature some of the world’s most important archeological collections, there is a diverse cultural lifestyle, including theaters, art galleries, performing arts, films, dance, music, nightclubs and modern sports facilities. Many important works of art by Mexican icons Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo can be seen throughout the city. Be sure to see the wonderful Rivera mural just north of El Zócalo just inside the Presidential Palace and it’s free and tells the story of Mexican history.

Safety issues are a primary concern for all United States citizens who travel outside the country.  You will do well, before you travel, to read this US State Dept. warning.      jeb



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