Mexico City

Mexico City

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Rare Sight

The last few times that I have been in Mexico City, there has always been something set up on the main plaza, the Zócalo...  a computer fair, a military exposition, a skating rink at Christmas time.  One could not appreciate the vast plaza and the historic buildings surrounding it because of all the "stuff".  A good view of the Zócalo was becoming as rare as seeing the two nearby volcanoes, Iztaccíhautl and Popocatépetl, through the pollution.

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..  

4 comments:

  1. Great photos, thanks. One of the funniest stories about the Majestic is when Edward James, the eccentric British man who built Las Pozas in Xilitla. Anyway, he used to stay there with his snakes, monkeys along with the rest of the entourage. One time many of the snakes got loose. Can you imagine? Makes me giggle.

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    1. There were some old photos of the hotel at the entry to the restaurant. It certainly seems to have had a colorful history. Wouldn't it be fun to travel back in time and see what Mexico City looked like in those days?

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  2. I did know the whys about the naming of the Zocalo. It was one of the first things I learned in 2003 and it stuck with me.

    Have you ever climbed up onto the roof of the Cathedral? It's cheap as chips and if the volcanoes are ever visible, it's a good place to see them. Although Torre Latinoamericana is better still, I guess.

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    1. Yes, a few years ago I took the tour up to the roof with the bell ringers!
      Twice so far this trip I have had a great view of the volcanoes... both times were while Alejandro was driving on an elevated portion of highway. However, I have never, ever, had the good luck of seeing them from the Torre Latinoamericana.

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