Today, however, I ventured downtown, and, lo and behold, the Zócalo was empty. I could photograph the great plaza (I've read that only Moscow's Red Square is larger) without any ugly obstructions.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City is on the north side of the Zócalo. It was begun in the 16th century and not completed until the 18th century.
Later in the afternoon I got an even better view of the Zócalo when I went to the terrace restaurant of the Hotel Majestic for lunch. The Majestic was built in the 1930s and was once one of the city's finest hotels. Today it is a part of the Best Western chain. It is is no longer one of the city's best hotels, but it still has an incomparable view of the Zócalo.
The National Palace, which houses the offices of Mexico's President, takes up the entire east side of the Zócalo.
The only way the view could have been better is if there had been a stronger breeze to unfurl that enormous Mexican flag in the middle of the square. Oh yes... and if there were no air pollution and you see the volcanoes to the east.
Do you know why the main plaza is called the Zócalo? In the 19th century there were plans to build a monument on the square. However, all that was ever built was the base (or "zócalo" in Spanish) for the proposed monument. People started referring to the square as the Zócalo even though its official name is the "Plaza de la Constitución". Before long, the main square in towns throughout the country came to be called the Zócalo..