Mexico City (CDMX) is the capital and largest city of Mexico and the most-populous city in North America. Mexico’s capital is both the oldest capital city in the Americas and one of two founded by indigenous people, the other being *Quito, Ecuador. The origins of Mexico City date back to 1325, when the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan was founded and later destroyed in 1521 by Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes.
The *Historic Center (map) of Mexico City and the “floating gardens” of *Xochimilco in the southern borough have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Landmarks in the Historic Center include the *Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo, map), the main central square with its epoch-contrasting Spanish-era *Metropolitan Cathedral (map) and *National Palace (map), ancient Aztec temple ruins *Templo Mayor (map) and modern structures, all within a few steps of one another.
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Other well-known central neighborhoods include *Condesa (map), known for its Art Deco architecture and its restaurant scene; Colonia Roma (map), a beaux arts neighborhood and artistic and culinary hot-spot, the *Zona Rosa (map), formerly the center of nightlife and restaurants. Santa María la Ribera (map) and San Rafael (map) are the latest neighborhoods of magnificent Porfiriato architecture seeing the first signs of gentrification.
The most recognizable icon of Mexico City is the golden Angel of Independence on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma (map).
*Chapultepec (map) houses the Chapultepec Castle (map), now a museum on a hill that overlooks the park and its numerous museums, monuments and the national zoo and the National Museum of Anthropology (which houses the Aztec Calendar Stone, map). Another piece of architecture is the *Palacio de Bellas Artes (map), a white marble theatre / museum whose weight is such that it has gradually been sinking into the soft ground below.
Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi (map). The square is surrounded by cafés and restaurants much favored by tourists, and in these and in the square itself groups of musicians play folk music.
The city’s main source of fresh produce is the Central de Abasto (map). This in itself is a self-contained mini-city in Iztapalapa borough covering an area equivalent to several dozen city blocks.
The principal fish market is known as La Nueva Viga (map), in the same complex as the Central de Abastos. The world-renowned market of Tepito (~map) occupies 25 blocks, and sells a variety of products. The weekly San Felipe de Jesús Tianguis (map) is reported to be the largest in Latin America.