Friday February 28, 2014
People who visit Mexico City for the first time are often surprised by it. They expect traffic, pollution, and crime. What they find is a modern, cosmopolitan city and a world of cultural offerings they never imagined. It's a fascinating place with more museums than any other city in the world, a history that dates back to ancient times, and amazing food options that range from delicious street stand tacos to delectable world-class gourmet offerings. The main problem first-time visitors face is deciding where to start. Here are my picks for top 10 Mexico City sights. The easiest way for Mexico City novices to get around? Take the Turibus.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to enjoy Mexico City. You can enjoy it on a limited budget: find cheap accommodations and see our list of free things to do in Mexico City.
Start planning your trip with our Mexico City travel guide.
Thursday February 27, 2014
We often think of Mexico's beach destinations, but Mexico's colonial cities offer rich cultural experiences, exuberant festivities, excellent cuisine and superb handicrafts all with a beautiful backdrop of colonial architecture and a fascinating history. Mexico's colonial history marked the collision of two very distinct cultures. It was a time of great upheaval and destruction, but this period also gave rise to a flourishing of art and architecture. Many cities in Mexico conserve their colonial town plan, cobblestone streets and beautiful colonial architecture. Several of Mexico's colonial cities have been recognized by the UNESCO as forming part of the heritage of humanity. Find out which cities are on UNESCO's list and learn more about them: Mexico's World Heritage Cities.
Photo of Puebla's Cathedral © Suzanne Barbezat
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Monte Alban and Mitla are Oaxaca's best known archaeological sites, though Oaxaca State has many, many more, including one important site that was opened to the public fairly recently. Atzompa was a satellite city of Monte Alban, and is located on a hilltop adjacent to it. This is a large and stunning site that, like Monte Alban, offers lovely views of the valley. Several important finds have made headlines during the the recent excavation. The finding of a large kiln, which is very similar to those still in use in the area today shows that pottery specialization in this area dates back to ancient times. The site also has a temple which contains a tomb with multiple chambers; apparently the building was constructed for the express purpose of housing the funeral chambers. This is very unusual for the area, where tombs were generally located below residences and temples.
Explore the ancient site in this series of photographs of Atzompa archaeological site.
Wednesday February 26, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama and Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, met with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto last week for the 3 Amigos Summit in Toluca, Mexico. This city is located just outside of Mexico's capital, 40 miles west of Mexico City. Toluca is a large city that is industrialized and prosperous, but is seldom visited by tourists, except those who use its airport, which has been used to handle overflow from the Mexico City airport. Toluca does have a few places of interest to visitors, however. The botanical garden is located in the city center in a structure that also contains an impressive work of stained-glass art called the "Cosmovitral," this mural depicts "Man and his Relation to the Universe," and is one of the sites that visitors shouldn't miss. Some stay in Toluca for a couple of nights in order to ascend the Nevado de Toluca, a nearby dormant volcano that is Mexico's fourth highest peak. Whatever the reason for the visit, travelers in Toluca should certainly sample the local specialties such as the chorizo, and "pambazos." Read our profile of Toluca city.
Creative Commons photo by Hernan Luna