Downtown Mexico City’s essential buildings, a quick guide
Downtown Mexico City is like an open space, living museum. Anywhere you look, there’s some old, beautiful, huge building to stare at. In fact, there’s so many, that deciding which ones to see may become an overwhelming task.
This is why we made this guide to downtown Mexico City’s essential buildings. The ones you absolutely can’t miss, especially if it’s your first time in the City of Palaces.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Construction for this iconic landmark of downtown Mexico City began in 1094. It was built as a replacement for the Teatro Nacional, which was the first opera house in the country. However, it was suspended after the start of the Mexican Revolution and completed 30 years later.
It’s one of the oldest standing buildings in the city -the current version was built between 1571 and 1657, in the area where the Aztecs’ main temple used to be. Astonishing altars and chapels, golden walls and underground crypts are some of this place’s attractions.
Teatro de la Ciudad Esperanza Iris
This lovely theatre, open in 1918, was once the place for live music in the city, and its stage saw the very best singers and musicians in the world parade through it. The building was the work of architects Ignacio Capetillo and Federico Mariscal, who was also responsible for the place that houses City Centro CDMX, a new concept that seeks to preserve historic buildings in the downtown areas of Mexican cities.
After years of progress and stability, dictator Porfirio Díaz commissioned a series of buildings that would reflect this state of prosperity. One of them was Bellas Artes, and another one was this architectural gem that used to house the post office. If you listen carefully, you can still hear the busy buzz of mail going in and out!
Monumento a la Revolución
It was supposed to be the grand entrance to a huge legislative palace but, after the bursting out of the Mexican Revolution, it was reduced to an old carcass and turned into a monument in the nineteen thirties. For the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence, the building was refurbished and the museum updated.
Palacio de Gobierno
Along with the cathedral, this one dominates the view from the Zócalo. One of the oldest buildings in Mexico City, it used to house the office of the president in turn. Nowadays, it is mostly used as local government offices and an impressive museum about Mexican history.
Casa de los Azulejos
This stunning palace is a true flagship for the New Spain baroque style that is common in downtown Mexico City. It used to be home to the Counts of Orizaba and now it hosts a popular chain of traditional Mexican food, which speaks for the economical transformation of the past couple of centuries.
Not as old as the rest of the buildings on this list but, still, Mexico’s first skyscraper. Built in the 1950’s, it was a symbol for the so-called Mexican miracle and the perceived prosperity that the country was enjoying back in the day. From the top of this classic looking, 44-story building, you can get the best view of the city’s downtown.
Downtown Mexico City is very easy when it comes to transportation: you can get to all of this spots by foot, subway, public bike or the Turibús, a double decker that covers all of the historic downtown while providing useful context.
Whichever you choose, you might want to stay at a hotel in the district to get proper rest from your adventures. City Centro CDMX, housed in a beautiful colonial building, is located at the perfect spot. Enjoy your stay at this exciting, megacity!
Nicolás and Federico Mariscal
The Mariscal brothers left their blueprint across Mexico City’s historic downtown. Iconic buildings such as Teatro de la Ciudad and Palacio de Bellas Artes bear the mark of these talented Mexican architects of the early twentieth century, who were involved in their construction. City Centro CDMX is located in what used to be an agricultural, state-owned bank. The beautiful crossing of styles -gothic, classic, arab- is a testimony to the Mariscal brothers’ groundbreaking work.