Mexico City is a buzzing hub of history, chaos and colour, while around the city there is plenty to see, including the UNESCO-listed colonial city of Puebla, set against a backdrop of volcanoes and snow-capped mountains, and the Italian-influenced town of Chipilo, where you can savour the best of both Mexico and Italy.
Lively, vibrant and borderline chaotic, Mexico’s buzzing capital moves at a hundred miles an hour. The crowds, music, restaurants and bars keep the city’s heart beating long after dark, while there are plenty of fascinating historic and cultural sites to keep guests busy during the day.
In 1978, electricity workers stumbled across an Aztec carving in the heart of Mexico City that led to the discovery of an ancient temple. Legend has it that on seeing an eagle perched on a cactus with a snake in its beak, a prophecy was fulfilled that told the ancient people that they should build a great city on that very spot - what the workers had stumbled across was the ancient city of Tenochitlan. The huge site in the centre of the city is truly fascinating, and a must for any visitor to Mexico City. An image of the vision, incidentally, now features on the coat of arms on the Mexican flag.
The vast Chapultepec Park in the centre of the city is home to the largest cathedral in the Americas, and is one of the largest squares in the world: whatever Mexico City does, it does big. While you’re here, be sure to visit the vibrant Frida Kahlo Museum, the former house of the iconic painter. The stark house of Leon Trotsky, where he lived in exile, is nearby and is equally fascinating.
Around Mexico City
Around Mexico City, the city of Puebla is set amongst volcanoes and snow-capped mountains. The fantastic Zocalo in the city centre shows off elegant colonial architecture and has been given UNESCO World Heritage status. As the site of the city’s successful defence of invading French forces, Puebla’s forts, Fuerte de Loreto and Fuerte de Guadalupe, are symbolic of its liberty and stand proud in the centre, while its cathedral has two of the tallest church towers in Mexico. Spend a few nights at La Purificadora, a contemporary hotel built, believe it or not, in a former ice factory.
The town of Chipilo, just 15 minutes from Puebla, was settled by Italian immigrants in the late 1800s and the Italian influence remains, with Venetian-style architecture and Italian restaurants and cafes lining the streets. Many locals still even speak the 19th-century Venetian dialect. Enjoy a gelato in the plaza to get the best of both Mexico and Italy! Those looking to escape the city should spend a little time exploring the nearby national park, La Malintzi.