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01.27.2010

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Zocalo (Plaza de la Constitución)
Historical Centre / Images of the Historical Centre / Attractions of Mexico City

Zone: Historical Centre
Metro: Zocalo
 

Few places hold within so much meaning for Mexican culture like the Zocalo of Mexico City, a monumental public space surrounded by some of the most emblematic urban landmarks in the city, which together constitute one of the largest and most important public plazas in the world.

The Zocalo’s background dates back to pre-Hispanic times; since then, in the place occupied by this plaza today, there existed an open space which was part of the ceremonial center of the Aztec empire’s capital, Tenochtitlán.

When the Spaniards arrived, they respected part of the layout that the ancient capital had and widened this public space initiating the construction of the Viceroy’s Palace (now the National Palace) on what had been the Palace of Moctezuma Xocoyotzin to the east of this plaza, while in the north sector they established the Metropolitan Cathedral where part of the Templo Mayor had been. In the west sector, several commercial locals were established which later originated the so-called “Merchants Portal” and finally, on the southern sector of the plaza the City Council of Mexico City was built.

The Zocalo has suffered many changes throughout its history, as the buildings around it have been demolished or remodeled several times, the plaza has had green areas, monuments, fountains and even a market, “El Parián”, that during the Viceroyship functioned in the southeast corner of the plaza and where it was possible to find fabric, silverware and clothes, among other merchandise from China’s Nao, a fleet of galleons which sailed from Acapulco to the East to bring all kinds of exotic objects to supply the Hispanic and European market.

Apart from being the seat of the political, economical and religious powers in Mexico, as well as a space where the indigenous and viceroyal past come together with more than 4 centuries of history, it’s also a rallying point in which the people of Mexico come together to celebrate parties or participate in manifestations. It’s the place in which Mexicans take part in history; in pre-Hispanic times with the rites and religious Aztec ceremonies; in the Viceroyship with the proclamations of Kings and Viceroys and in the time of Independence with the celebrations of Independence Day, the welcoming of governors, protests or cultural events. Mexico City’s Zocalo is the heart of a culture and every beat a day in its history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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