Exploring Mexico City’s Historic Centro

Published Date Author: , March 7th, 2015

Carlos Melia - Mexico City

My first day in Mexico City began very early. I was very excited to explore the Historic District. So by 6AM I was up and getting ready for a full day out. First my beauty mask, while doing some research on where to go and what to see. Right after, down the iconic spiral stairs for Las Alcobas boutique hotel, to enjoy a local breakfast “Green Chicken Chilaquiles” at Anatol Restaurant.

Interesting facts to share. Did you know that Mexico City holds approximately 25 million people and it is considered to be, the city with most museum in the whole entire world ? The purpose of this post, is to give you and ABC 101 list of the places to visit during your visit to the Historic Center of Mexico City, without getting into much detail on each of them.

Carlos Melia - Mexico CityBy the time I took the last bite of my favorite Mexican breakfast, my day was fully curated and I was ready to head off. I had a long day ahead, since I LOVE to walk and I decided to do so all day. First stop from my location in Polanco, was the Bosques de Chapultepec and a long walk along Paseo de la Reforma.

Paseo de la Reforma is the main artery of the city and this is where you will find the Angel of the Independence, built in 1910 to commemorate the centennial of the beginning of Mexico’s War of Independence, and The Huntress Diana Fountain.

From there, and 30 minutes after walking along Paseo de la Reforma, I arrived to Square Central Alameda and my first stop within the Historic District circuit, the Museo Mural Diego Rivera. Here you will be able to enjoy one of Diego Rivera’s creations ” Sueno de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central “.

Carlos Melia - Mexico CityFrom there I took a short stroll along Alameda Central, to the opposite far side, to the stunning Palacio de Bellas Artes. The floors between the ground floor and the uppermost floor are dominated by a number of murals painted by most of the famous names of Mexican muralism.

Just across the street from Palacio de Bellas Artes, you will find ( one of my absolute favorite ) the Palacio Postal or Post Office. It is both marvelous from inside out. Its architectural style is highly eclectic, and the main stairs and ceilings is something you must see.

Next, I was instructed to walk along Av. Francisco L. Madero from the Avenue off Palacio de Correos, all the way to the main square, known as Zocalo. On the way, you will pass on your left, by Casa de Azulejos, (aka. the House of the Tiles ) where I strongly recommend you enter the Sanborns shop and make a brief technical break to enjoy a coffee at their internal patio/cafe. (and this is something you must keep in mind in Mexico City, most houses feature internal patios, which usually are beautiful. So always be attentive and aware to explore them ).

At the very end of Av. Francisco L. Madero, you will finally arrive to the heart of the Historic District, Plaza de la Constitucion, the main square, commonly known as Zocalo. It was the main ceremonial center in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan and from the colonial period on, the main plaza or square in the heart of the historic center of Mexico City. There you will find the main cathedral ” Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de Mexico “, the Palacio Nacional and the Gran Hotel de Ciudad de Mexico.

Take some time to explore the Palacio Nacional. It is not opened all the time, but you should try. The interiors are wonderful, and the murals on the second floor must be seen. National Palace, is the seat of the federal executive in Mexico. Much of the current palace remains original, from the one that belonged to Moctezuma II.

Next stop, and just across the street from the exit to the National Palace, is the Antiguo Palacio del Arzobispado and Museo de Arte de la SHCP. During the Mexica Empire, this was the venue of the temple dedicated to one of their deities: Tezcatlipoca, protector of the warriors, lord of the underworld.

Carlos Melia - Mexico CityNext stop was the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. The original Tiffany stained-glass ceiling is quite spectacular and something you have to see before you leave the area of Zocalo. It is quite impressive. Discover the Old World elegance of the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, an exquisite turn-of-the-century property perfectly located in downtown Mexico City. You can feel the history from the moment you step inside. From the Art Nouveau decor to the gilded open elevators and immaculate stained-glass ceiling in the lobby, every inch of the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico pays tribute to the past while providing the comfort you expect from a fine luxury hotel.

My itinerary for the day, was coming to an end, and being almost 2PM, I was ready to enjoy a nice lunch. So going back to the recommendations of the Les Clefs d’Or Concierge and my hotel Las Alcobas, I began to have a look at all the options available. In the area…. and I must admit that I tried them all… ha ha ha …

First stop was DOWNTOWN. There on the basement you will find several options for lunch. But on the first floor, you will find the charming DOWNTOWN Hotel by Grupo Habita. They have a lovely bar with tapas, where you can enjoy a drink while you gaze at their main mural and seat at the outdoor patio. This was indeed my first drink of the afternoon. There I met Gustavo, the general manager, who introduced me to the property, and also shared with me their most precious secret, the rooftop bar and pool, see below.

Just across the street, Isabel la Catolica, from DOWNTOWN, you will find the Casino Espanol. If you like Spanish food, then you must try their restaurant on the second floor, opened for breakfast and lunch. Not to mention, as you may see on my photos, that the building, in a fabulous Porfiriato-era architecture and decor, is worth the visit.

Going back to the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, on their rooftop, they have an open buffet style restaurant, with panoramic views of Zocalo. Perhaps the best views of Zocalo you will find. Now the restaurant itself and the buffet is pretty basic ( ranging from MEX$ 190 onwards per person ).

After trying a few of my gourmet options, I decided to head back to my hotel in Polanco, and walking sounded like the best plan. So taking the advice from some local friends, I walked along Calle Regina, a charming street in the Historic District, designated as a “cultural corridor” in 2007. Being such a lovely afternoon, I decided, I would love to spend a few hours chilling at a rooftop, having a chilled Michelada Beer and lounging for the rest of the afternoon. So at the very end of Calle Regina, I jumped on a taxi and headed to trendy and bohemian Colonia Condesa, to enjoy my last gourmet stop of the afternoon, and the CondesaDF hotel by Grupo Habita. This hotel features a lovely Sushi Bar at their rooftop, with relaxing views to Plaza Espana and Plaza Mexico.

Two hours later, and a few Micheladas, I check my emails, and I see a note for the General Manager at Las Alcobas hotel, inviting me to test their spa, with an invitation to a 90 minutes massage and full body almond scrub an Avocado wrap. HA…. this was sent to me from heaven, after a full day walking. So I gather my staff and off I went back to Las Alcobas boutique hotel, to enjoy my Spa treatments, and get ready for dinner, at one of the top restaurants in Polanco, the Dulce Patria. But this is for my next post. Stay Tuned. Hope you enjoyed my day exploring the Historic District of Mexico City.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog | Mexico City Gay Travel Resources

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