Aug 5, 2010

Mexico City’s Zocalo

The zocalo, or public square, is the heartbeat of Mexico’s cities, towns and villages and the granddaddy of them all is in Mexico City. Also know as Plaza de la ConstituciĆ³n, it is one of the largest public squares in the world behind Tiananmen Square in Beijing and Moscow’s Red Square.
The political and historical center of the city it is flanked by the Presidential Palace worth a visit alone for Diego Rivera’s murals. It also boasts the largest church in Latin America, the Metropolitan Cathedral.

The Zocalo and its immediate surrounds stand on the site of the ancient Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, which was conquered by Spain’s Hernan Cortes in the 16th century. Adjacent to the main square is the Templo Mayor, which was the main temple for Aztec Tenochtitlan. It was almost completely destroyed by the Conquistadores and its remains, now a museum, were rediscovered in 1978.

Today circles of indigenous or Aztec dancers perform to the sound of beating drums and people line up for shamans to conduct prayers and spiritual cleansing rituals. Festivals, concerts and cultural events all take place in the zocalo, which is also the epicenter of protests. When I was there in June a tent city of protesting teachers and electricians took up half the square while a huge screen was being set up to broadcast the World Cup. The tent city was cleared before the games began.

To get to the zocalo you can take the Metro to the zocalo stop on line 2 or catch one of the yellow and green buses on Paseo de la Reforma, the city’s main thoroughfare. Look for buses that say zocalo and make sure you have four pesos in change.

8 comments:

Fly Girl said...

I've heard so much about the Zocolo but I didn't know it was on an Aztec site. That makes sense though, I love the costumes and rituals.

Team Rees said...

Templo Meyor was wild! I can't believe they didn't know it was there, until the what? 70s?!

Wendy said...

Fly Girl, What I love about the zocalo is that it isn't just a tourist destination. There are many more locals than tourists. The shaman aren't there for show.

Team Rees, It is really wild that it sat undiscovered until then.

Erica said...

"The zocalo, or public square, is the heartbeat of Mexico’s cities..." As Italy's piazzas in a way. I like seeing when locals gather on public squares and almost turn them into their living rooms. So many ages and activities in the same place.

Wendy said...

Erica,
I love that as well and also the fact that people of different ages are all in the same place interacting and enjoying life.

Lakshmi said...

so much of colour and life

Wendy said...

Lakshmi, There is plenty to observe.

Where My Heart Is said...

What amazing headpieces! I have never heard of Zocolo - looks like a hidden gem.