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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mexico City: Historical Center, Chapultepec Castle

Day 3

A trip to Mexico City won't be complete without visiting the heart of the city, that is the walking tour of Zocalo and the ten acre Historical Centre.

I thought that Mexico City will be difficult to get around because of safety and language barrier, so we opted to book a private day tour with  A guide would be very much helpful leading the way and explaining its history.   However, I find the place pretty safe, one can always explore it on your own. has a good run down of the places to see in the area.

Cathedral Metropolitana (8)
We started by getting off between the Zocalo, National Palace (7) and Cathedral Metropolitana (8), had a glimpse of Templo Mayor (9) and offered prayers inside Metropolitan Cathedral (8).

inside Metropolitan Cathedral (8)
glimpse of templo mayor (9)

There was heightened security before entering the National Palace (7).  Once inside, do check out the courtyard, you wont miss it anyway.  The murals of Diego Riviera is the highlight of the National Palace.  Our guide was a history major and passionately explained the story of every significant mural inside.

lovely courtyard of the National Palace
impressive murals of Diego Riviera inside the National Palace

hallway of the National Palace
Church of la Profesa
We continued to walk across the Zocalo and walked down the shops along Madero Avenue and Cinco de Mayo while being entertained by mime artists.  I was particularly impressed how well dressed some of these artists were.
Iturbide Palace turned into a bank
San Francisco Church

Casino Espanol
Along those avenues, the facade of the old buildings have been preserved and marked with bits of history and just too many to remember.  These buildings are now operating as commercial establishments.  Along Madero and Callejon de la Condesa Avenue, Casa de los Azulejos (4) (House of Tiles) occupied by Sanborns Department Store, for lunch.  We had a hearty Mexican dish for lunch for about 200 mxn, the ambience was great, service good but the food was just average.  You're better off  to eat in some other place.

inside Sanborns Restaurant, at the House of Tiles

the crowd outside the house of tiles

mexican lunch at Sanborns

We continued the walking tour to Hidalgo Avenue to see the elegantly marbled Palace of Fine Arts (3) and made a quick visit inside.  Five hours have passed, we proceeded along Alameda Park and made our way to the Franz Mayer Museum (2).  There are a few art pieces at this museum and for me this is not a must see.

Palace of Fine Arts

Franz Mayer Museum

the courtyard of Franz Mayer Museum
A Mexico city tour of the Historical Center is normally a 5 hour walking tour, we opted for an 8-hour tour to include Chapultepec Park, Chapultepec Castle and the art deco buildings of Condesa.  Guilty of not scrutinizing the itinerary very well, cramping all these in a day can be tiring.  After a long walk around the Historical Center, the van met us and drove us to Chapultepec Park, right across the Anthropology Museum.  We had a long and quick walk past the Chapultepec Park.  We missed the last train up the castle so we had to walk uphill to get to the top and had only a few minutes before closing time. 
Chapultepec Park

inside Chapultepec Castle

Chapultepec Castle

If I had to do this all over again, a 5 hour tour of the Historical Center would be more than enough for the day, the Chapultepec Castle wasn't worth a visit either.  We missed the Anthropology Museum, maybe that is worth a visit before the walking tour of the Historical Center.  The National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral, Palace of Fine Arts, House of Tiles are amongst the must see.  Then spend the rest of time getting lost along Cinco de Mayo and Madero Avenue shopping or sipping coffee.  Ooh, this sounds like a better plan, why didn't I thought of that in the first place.

After the tour, we asked our guide to drop us off at Plaza Villa de Madrid, Durango, Colonia Roma. We would have wanted to dine at Chuchito Perez but we were not able to get a table without prior reservation.  We tried our luck again with their branch in Cancun, and I can say it's one of our best meals in Mexico.  Nonetheless, we found another restaurant nearby, had good food and booze on our last night in Mexico City,

Read more about Colonia Roma while food tripping with Sabores Mexico. 

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