Mexico City's main square is the ideal starting point for your walking tour of the historical center.
Mexico City is built on top of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. In the South East corner of the Zocalo is the spot where Hernan Cortes is said to have met Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor, in 1519. After the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs, Cortes had the colonial town plan traced according to Spanish tradition, with the square at the heart of the city, surrounded by buildings which represent the colonial powers: the church and the government.
- The official name of this square is the Plaza de la Constitucion, but it's commonly called the Zocalo.
- This Zocalo is one of the largest public squares in the world, at 830 x 500 feet.
- It is an important gathering place, used for festivals, cultural events and demonstrations.
- The Zocalo has gone through many incarnations. Now it is a large, paved space with only a huge Mexican flag in the center.
- Zocalo means pedestal, or stand. In the 1800s a pedestal was set up in the center of the square for a monument to commemorate Mexican independence. The statue was never put in place and people began to refer to the square itself as the Zocalo. Now in many towns in Mexico the main square is called the Zocalo.