The Plaza de la Constitucion, or Zocalo in Mexico
City, has been the center of activity in Mexico City
for hundreds of years. The central plaza in Mexico City
is surrounded by important buildings such as the Temple
Mayor, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and Palacio Nacional.
It’s also an important meeting spot for locals as
well as visitors. If you get separated from your Mexico
tour group, chances are you will find someone you know
at the Plaza de la Constitucion. The Mexico City Zocalo
is one of the largest public squares in the world, measuring
800 square feet.
The term zocalo, which refers to the main public squares in Mexican towns, is derived the Spanish word socle, which refers to the base of a statue. Public squares in Mexico acquired the name zocalo in the early nineteenth century when the Mexican leader Santa Ana removed a statue of the Spanish king Carlos IV from the main plaza in Mexico City in order to place a new monument celebrating Mexico’s independence. After removing the old statue, its base remained in the center of the plaza and the square was soon known as the Zocalo in Mexico City.
Plaza De La Constitucion is site of political protests,
annual fiestas, concerts, and other special events.
Most political protests or marches either start or end
up at the Zocalo in Mexico City. If you’re there
in the evening, stay for the nightly lowering of the flag
ceremony at 6:00 p.m. Every evening without fail, the
Mexican flag is lowered as a sign of respect for the nation.
One of the highlights of the main plaza in Mexico City
is the Metropolitan
Cathedral, one of the largest churches in North America.
The Baroque-style church, built between 1563 and 1813,
has over 150 windows as well as a crypt containing the
former archbishops of Mexico City. If you’re visiting Mexico
City, take a tour of the Cathedral to learn more about
the history and significance of the church.
If you’re interested in the history
of Mexico, take a tour of the Museo Temple Mayor,
or Museum of the Main Temple. The museum displays Mayan
ruins such as pyramids, statues of eagle warriors, and
other Aztec statues. A large 3D map of the Aztec capital
of Tenochtitlan is displayed right outside of the museum.
Another important building of the Zocalo is the Palacio Nacional, or National Palace. The National Palace takes up the entire eastern side of the Mexico City Zocalo and is a fine example of seventeenth-century government architecture in Mexico City. The National Palace has displays about the history of Mexico as well as paintings by the artist Diego Rivera.
Opposite of the National Palace is a commercial building
with restaurants and upscale stores and restaurants. Some
of the buildings surrounding the Mexico City Zocalo have
top-floor restaurants that offer the perfect vantage point
for watching the flag lowering ceremony as well as other
events in the square.