Mexico City is settled in what was one of the main lake areas of pre-Hispanic Mexico and is known as the "City of Palaces."
It is historically very wealthy; it was founded in 1525 by the Spanish conquerors who, after defeating the Mexicas, built the new city on the ruins of the Aztec city, Tenochtitlán.
The Federal District has two areas declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO: the Historic Center and Xochimilco Ecological Park. Visiting the first is a journey through different periods in history, all sharing the same area. There are colonial-era buildings such as the Metropolitan Cathedral and National Palace, the pre-Hispanic ruins of the Templo Mayor (Great Temple), and more contemporary buildings like the Palace of Fine Arts or the Torre Latinoamericana, which with its antenna, reaches a height of 669 feet.
The Xochimilco Ecological Park is considered by many the "Venice of Mexico" because of its canals that connect its chinampas or "floating gardens,"which can be reached by trajinera (a type of large punt boat). Trajineras give one an idea of transport in pre-Hispanic times, how the chinampas function and how goods are traded in that era.
Like a mosaic, each of Mexico City's principal areas displays this cultural syncretism: the collection of archeological sites, colonial and contemporary buildings in the same space, as well as a wide variety of natural and cultural centers. It also offers a wide variety of museums, including the National Museum of Anthropology – considered to be one of the best in the world; the National Art Museum; the Casa Azul of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera; and the Museum of Modern Art.
Coyoacan, a former village and now one of the sixteen boroughts of Mexico City, is an historic center. It is a popular place to visit, especially on weekends, because many of the original layouts, plazas, and narrow streets have been preserved and date from the sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries.
Another popular place to hang out is in La Condesa, located just south of Avenida Chapultepec. This area began as lands owned by two countesses in the colonial period. Comparable to Soho in New York or the Latin Quarter in Paris, the area today is fashionable and attracts young businesspeople, students, and artists. Its avenues are wide and tree-lined and although primarily residential, it is still filled with restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and galleries.
To the north of the city you can visit the Basilica of Guadalupe, one of the most visited religious shrines in the world, where the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared before San Juan Diego, on the summit of the Cerro del Tepeyac. It is an obligatory stop for those who want to learn more about the city's customs and traditions.
Mexico City offers a wide range of activities inherent to a modern city: from shopping in bazaars and crafts markets, in neighborhoods such as Coyoacán and San Angel, to exclusive boutiques and shopping malls, such as those found in the Santa Fe and Polanco districts. The luxury, glamour, and comfort of these areas match international standards.
Mexico City, or the Federal District as it is known, is located on the Central Plateau at an altitude of 7,350 feet above sea level, which is rare for a city of such size. It has a mild climate all year round and as well as being the country's economic center, it is the capital of Mexico and the seat of federal power of the Union.
Climate: Temperate semi-humid
Temperature: 61°F / 16°C annual average
Location: Central Mexico
Area: 573 sq miles