The third day of our Gate 1 Travel Mexico trip, and our last day in Mexico City, took us to the heart of the city – the zocalo.
In the center of Mexico City is its zocalo. To many, this area is the heart of Mexico City and the site of the city’s origin.
Zocalo is the common name for the main square of Mexico City. While its official name is Plaza de la Constitution, it has no relation to Mexico’s constitution.
It was initially part of the main center of the Aztec city of Tenochitlan, one block south of the Temple Mayor. A place long considered to be the center of the universe.
The Zocalo is one of the largest public squares in the world and can hold more than 100,000 people. Much like in Aztec times, the square remains a cultural and political gathering place.
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
On the North side of Mexico City’s zocalo is the Metropolitan Cathedral, whose formal name is the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.
This is the largest cathedral in all of the Americas. Constructed between 1573 and 1813, it sits above the Aztec sacred ground known as the Temple Mayor.
Because it was built over several centuries, the Spanish architects incorporated multiple styles of architecture, taking inspiration from the Gothic cathedrals of Spain. The local indigenous people did the construction of the cathedral.
While the focus of our tour was Aztec and Mayan history, it was difficult to overlook this enormous piece of history and its place in the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
Unfortunately, we could only spend a short time in the cathedral.
According to Wikipedia
It consists of two bell towers, a central dome, and three main portals. It has four façades which contain portals flanked with columns and statues. It has five naves consisting of 51 vaults, 74 arches, and 40 columns. The two bell towers contain 25 bells. The tabernacle, adjacent to the cathedral, contains the baptistery and serves to register the parishioners. There are five large, ornate altars, a sacristy, a choir, a choir area, a corridor, and a capitulary room. Fourteen of the cathedral’s sixteen chapels are open to the public. Each chapel is dedicated to a different saint or saints, and each was sponsored by a religious guild. The chapels contain ornate altars, altarpieces, retablos, paintings, furniture, and sculptures. The cathedral is home to two of the largest 18th-century organs in the Americas. There is a crypt underneath the cathedral that holds the remains of many former archbishops. The cathedral has approximately 150 windows.
It is undeniable that the artwork and sculptures are spectacular.
Jesús Sin Hogar
A striking statue called ‘Jesús Sin Hogar’ or Homeless Jesus, is located in a garden behind the cathedral.
The statue, designed by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz is one of about 100 copies on display around the globe.
The remains of the Templo Mayor are located behind what is now the Cathedral of Mexico City. This was originally the center of Tenochtitlan, the home of the Mexica people.
Like many other cities of its time, the conquerors used stones from the temples and surrounding buildings to build churches and colonial cities.
The remains went undiscovered until the early 20th century. What was unearthed is not just one temple built sometime after 1325 but a series of six other temples built on top of the other.
Much of the temple was not fully excavated until the late 1900s when two electric company workers hit upon a massive stone disk dating back to the 15th century.
It’s pretty amazing to walk through the temple grounds just behind the cathedral and a few steps off the zocalo.
Mexico City’s zocalo, the cathedral, the temple mayor, and the surroundings are well worth the visit when in Mexico City.
1 thought on “Visiting The Heart of Mexico City”
The architecture is magnificent and so rich in history. Who says you can’t learn something new every day…