Paseo de la Reforma
Details: Mexico City guided sightseeing tour
Crowds, cars, and cantinas. Twenty million residents clamoring all day long in the marketplaces and dancing all night long in the clubs. Few cities have the pure, tangible energy of Mexico City. Explore the past and present of this mammoth metropolis, built right on top of the capital of the Aztec empire. A licensed local guide will take you to the immense Plaza de la Constitución, the second largest square in the world after Moscow’s Red Square, whose unofficial name “el Zócalo” means “plinth” because of the never-completed statue in the center. Lining the square are the Cathedral and Palacio Nacional. The Cathedral was built between 1573 and 1813, and its architectural styles change, getting more and more ornate, as you go up. The Palacio Nacional still holds the president’s offices and a spectacular set of Diego Rivera murals — the artist depicted almost the full span of Mexican history, from the Toltecs and Aztecs to the Mexican Revolution, in amazing detail and striking, vivid colors. Nearby, the excavated Templo Mayor shows several layers of the chief Aztec temple. The Aztecs rebuilt their temples every 52 years, and there are at least seven separate structures (most of them now well below water level and not yet excavated) on this site.
Details: Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe visit
See the rough woven cloak that miraculously generated a full-color image of the Virgin Mary. On December 9, 1531, resident Juan Diego, hurrying to find a priest for his dying uncle, saw a vision of the Virgin. She commanded him to build a basilica here and proved her divinity by curing his uncle and miraculously setting her own image into Juan Diego’s cloak. Since then she’s been busy performing miracles, ending plagues, and presiding as patron saint of the Americas. The basilica is now one of the most visited in Latin America.
Details: Teotihuacán guided excursion
The Aztecs named it “The Place Where Men Became Gods.” Get some divine inspiration yourself as your licensed local guide shows you this remarkable ancient town, so impressive that when the Aztecs found it in ruins, they assumed a race of giants had built it. At its height in the 7th century, the city had as many as 250,000 residents. The oldest structure, the Pyramid of the Sun, has a base as large as the Great Pyramid in Egypt. The long Avenue of the Dead leads to the smaller but more graceful Pyramid of the Moon. Clamber to the top for spectacular views.