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Mexico has a history almost as colourful as its fabrics, art and cuisine, and the capital city has played a vital role over the years, through rapid growth and Aztec-Spaniard rebellions.
The roots of Mexico's capital lie in its historical centre, where you will find the impressive city square which is known as the Zocalo, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Palacio of Bellas Artes, and the Palacio Nacional. Within the grandiose colonial Palacio Nacional, Diego Rivera murals depicting Mexican civilization from Aztecs to post-revolutionary times, and the palace itself is home to the offices of the president of Mexico, and the Federal Treasury. The Campana de Dolores bell hangs in the palace, having been moved from Dolores Hidalgo, where it was rung at the start of the War of Independence. Beneath the bell lies a balcony, from which the president will deliver a shout of 'Viva México!' on the evening of 15th September each year, to commemorate Mexican independence.
A visit to the world-renowned National Museum of Anthropology is an absolute must, and you could easily lose days here. It is one of the most important Anthropological museums in the world, and at its entrance stands a huge monolithic figure identified as the rain god, Tláloc. Permanent exhibitions provide an introduction to anthropology and display archaeological findings from extinct indigenous cultures, while the upper floor documents the life-styles of contemporary indigenous inhabitants of Mexico. After hours visits are also an option for the real history and anthropology afficionados.
Whether your interest lies in Aztec civilizations, Colonial Mexico, Rebellions or Art history, there will be a number of fascinating sites to explore with a local guide.
Templo Mayor is a fascinating archaeological site in the heart of the city, and is thought to be at the exact spot where the Aztecs saw their symbolic eagle perching on a cactus with a snake in its mouth, and so quite literally, the centre of their universe.
Ollie, Original Traveller