What is the largest city in Mexico

Mexico City

Guide checked and approved by the Mexico City Tourism Association. Find more experiences and routes under cdmxtravel.com

Mexico City (Spanish: México, Ciudad de México, or D.F. (pronounced de eh-fe)) is the capital of Mexico and the largest city in North America. Mexico is one of the most visited countries in the world and its capital is a popular destination for tourism and business. Mexico City has more than ten centuries of history and offers a unique and rich variety of experiences. The residents of the city will be defeños or chilangos and are friendly and helpful to tourists.

The Mexico City metropolitan area is one of the world's largest and the largest city in North America with an estimated population of 20 million. It is oval-shaped with dimensions of about 60 by 40 kilometers, built in the dry bed of Lake Texcoco and surrounded on three sides by high mountains and volcanoes such as the Ajusco, the Popocatépetl and the Iztaccíhuatl. Downtown Mexico City (with an estimated population of between eight and nine million) is a federal district (Spanish: Distrito Federal or D.F.), a federally governed area (i.e. not part of a Mexican state) that acts as the capital of Mexico. The rest of the metropolitan area extends far into the state of Mexico, the D.F. surrounds on three sides. In practical terms, Mexico City is the same as a federal district, much like Washington is the same as the District of Columbia in the capital of the United States. The federal district is where tourists spend most of their time when visiting the city.

Additionally, Mexico City is one of the most liberal cities in Latin America and was the first jurisdiction in the region to allow same-sex marriage (December 2009). It is a gay friendly city and gay tourism is offered by the local tourist office. On-demand abortion is legal, as are some forms of euthanasia and prostitution (the latter only in certain districts). Legalized marijuana use, for example, is still being discussed in the local congress.

Quick overview

  • Area: 1,485 km2 (573 square miles)
  • Elevation: 2,250 m (7380 feet)
  • Population (of the city proper): 8.84 million
  • Population (of Mexico City): 21 million
  • Motto: "La ciudad de los Palacios" (City of Palaces)

Weather

Mexico City has a subtropical highland climate (Köppen climate classification Cwb), because of its tropical location and its high altitude. It feels warm and the temperatures are never too extreme. Wikimania takes place in July, which is exactly the start of the rainy season. That is why we recommend our guests to prepare for rainy afternoons.

  • Climate: Subtropical highland climate (Köppen climate classification)
  • Spring: March to May. Average 10–26 ° C (50–79 ° F), the start of the rainy season
  • Summer: June to August. Average 12-23 ° C (54-73 ° F). Rainy season
  • Autumn: September to November. Average 10-20 ° C (50-68 ° F) at the end of the rainy season
  • Winter: December to February. Average 5-18 ° C (41-64 ° F).

Main sights

Main tourist destinations in the city
Mexico City Cathedral is one of the oldest and largest Roman Catholic cathedrals in the Americas.
Central Library of the National Autonomous University of Mexico
“Trajineras”, traditional boats in Xochimilco

Mexico City is a massive city, and there are plenty of neighborhoods to see, enough to keep anyone busy for a year. Mexico has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites of any country in the Americas and is number six in the world. Our city has three UNESCO protected sites. Downtown Mexico City has been populated since the pre-Columbian 12th century, and the city has been filled with historic buildings and landmarks from every era ever since. Mexico City is also known as the City of Palaces because of the large number of imposing buildings, especially in the center (Downtown).

  • Plaza de la Constitución, commonly known as Zócalo in the historic downtown area, is one of the largest public squares in the world, surrounded by historic buildings including the City Hall and the Cathedral.
  • La Catedral, the largest Catholic Church in the Americas. The main altar of the multi-nave church is made of solid gold.
  • Angel de la Independencia or simply "El Ángel" is a monument celebrating Mexico's independence from 1810. It is located on Reforma Avenue and Florencia Street, near Zona Rosa.
  • Basílica de Guadalupe The most sacred place for Catholics in the Americas and the second most visited destination for pilgrims from around the world, especially during the annual celebration on December 12th.
  • Ciudad Universitaria The main campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Located on Insurgentes Sur Avenue, it is one of the world's largest universities with more than 270,000 students each semester. In 2007 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Coyoacan, historic colony-style district that was home to Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky and Diego Rivera, among others.
  • Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi. The square is surrounded by cafes and restaurants popular with tourists, and folk music groups play in these and on the square itself. Most of these groups are “mariachis” from Jalisco, dressed in traditional charro costumes. They play trumpets, violins, guitars and the guitarrón (bass guitar).
  • Ciudadela handicraft market—The Ciudadela is a Mexican handicraft market where cultural groups and artisans from all over Mexico offer their handicrafts for other parts of the country and the whole world.
  • Alameda and Paseo de la Reforma—Paseo de la Reforma ("Reform Alley") is a 12 km long, wide avenue and park in Mexico City. The name recalls the liberal reforms of Mexican President Benito Juárez.
  • Cineteca Nacional (National Film Archive)—First to show artist films and is known for its forums, retrospectives and tributes. It has four projection rooms, a video and film library and a cafeteria.
  • Torre Latinoamericana (Viewing platform open from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm) for overwhelming views of the city. Its central location, height (183 m or 597 ft; 45 floors), and history make it one of Mexico City's most imposing landmarks.
  • Torre Mayor—The newest and tallest tower in the city and after the Torre Santiago the second tallest skyscraper in Latin America and good for impressive views over the city center.

Parks

View of Paseo de la Reforma from the top of the Torre Latinoamericana.

Mexico City is full of different squares and parks scattered around every neighborhood. But the following are some of the biggest, most beautiful, most interesting, or famous:

  • Chapultepec Park and Zoo Paseo de la Reforma. Is a large park with 6 km² in the middle of the city center, which offers many attractions, including the city zoo and several museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Anthropology, the Children's Museum (Museo del Papalote), the Technology Museum, the Natural History Museum and the National Museum, also known as Castillo de Chapultepec, the former seat of the Austrian Emperor Maximilian von Habsburg.
  • Xochimilco, an extensive system of waterways and flower gardens from the Aztec period in the south of the city, where tourists can enjoy a ride in the “trajineras” (brightly painted boats). Trajineras cruise past each other with mariachi or marimba bands and floating bars and taquerias on board. Xochimilco is the last remnant of the appearance of Mexico City when the Spanish arrived in Mexico City in 1521 and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
  • Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi Mexico City is surrounded by bars and restaurants that will cater to mariachi band enthusiasts. This is where the bands come here on the evenings of the weekend for public appearances, just for fun, but you can give some money. A visit to Mexico is not complete until you've seen the amazing mariachi bands. Here you will also find a great “pulqueria” (a bar that offers pulque, a fermented cactus drink).
  • Parque Mexico and Parque España are two neighboring parks in Colonia Condesa that served as part of a race track. Now they are popular for an evening stroll and sometimes a place for outdoor exhibitions or concerts, surrounded by cool modern cafes and bars.

A city of culture

Appointed to Ibero-American Capital of Culture 2010,[1] Mexico City is the city with the largest number of museums in the world (not counting the art galleries), with New York in second place, London in third and Toronto in fourth. The city has a very active cultural life and an extensive architectural heritage from the Aztecs to Baroque and Neoclassical examples and modern buildings by international architects such as the Luis Barragán House and Studio.

Museums

Stone of the Sun, large Aztec monolith in the National Museum of Anthropology
The Palace of Fine Arts, the main cultural center in Mexico City as well as the rest of Mexico
Museo Soumaya, one of the most visited in Mexico.

Mexico is the city with the largest number of museums in the world; to name some of the most popular:

  • National Museum of Anthropology. One of the best museums in the world. It was built in the late 1960s; the design is by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. Note the huge, impressive fountain in the courtyard. It brings together the best collection of sculptures, jewels and handicrafts from ancient Mexican cultures and it would take many days to see everything. They also have interesting international special exhibitions.
  • Museo Soumaya. Is a private museum in Mexico City. It is a non-profit cultural institution with two museum buildings in Mexico City - Plaza Carso and Plaza Loreto. It possesses over 66,000 works from 30 centuries including pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, Mexican art from the 19th and 20th centuries, and an extensive repertoire of works by European Old Masters and masters of modern Western art such as Auguste Rodin, Salvador Dalí, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and Tintoretto . It is considered to be one of the most complete collections of its kind.
  • Plaza de las Tres Culturas Tlatelolco has examples of modern, colonial and pre-Columbian architecture. Just 15 minutes away from the Wikimania venue.
  • Museum of Modern Art. Here you can find pictures by Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo as well as a sculpture garden.
  • Dolores Olmedo Museum. An art philanthropist left her former home, the large Hacienda La Noria, as a museum with works by her friend Diego Rivera. At least 137 of his works are shown here, as well as 25 paintings by Frida Kahlo. The premises also have wonderful gardens full of peacocks and a strange Aztec breed of dog.
  • Palace Museum of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes). A concert hall and arts center with some of Mexico's finest murals; the art nouveau furnishings alone are worth seeing.
  • Rufino Tamayo Museum. Contains the works of the Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo.
  • National History Museum in Chapultepec's Castle. The nineteen museum rooms contain, in addition to a collection of pre-Columbian material and reproductions of old manuscripts, an extensive range of exhibits that illustrate the history of Mexico since the Spanish conquest.
  • Papalote, children's museum. If you have kids you will love them! Bright, colorful and full of educational experiences for children of all ages. Shows various science experiments.
  • Universe (National University’s Museum). A science museum owned by UNAM, the largest university in Latin America. Take some time to wander around campus.
  • Casa Mural Diego Rivera. Contains murals by renowned artist Diego Rivera.
  • National Palace (Zócalo). You can see some impressive frescoes by Diego Rivera here. You have to show a personal document with a photo to enter the building.

Se habla español (We speak Spanish)

The language spoken in our city is Spanish - a language that we share with many peoples in the world. The worldwide Spanish-speaking population is growing more and more, especially in the United States. In most areas of the city, many people can understand and speak English. Even if someone does not speak English, the capital's residents are of good character and are friendly and will be happy to help if asked.

A diverse city

Mexico City has had a distinctly open mind for several decades. It is a city that is home to many foreigners and that has more legal freedoms than many other cities in the world. Mexico City is home to many internationally known artists who expand the broad and multi-colored cultural scene. It is an officially LGBT-friendly travel destination (member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association) and offers space in which many people from diverse backgrounds can live in harmony with one another.

Visa

see main article:Visa

currency

The local currency is the Mexican peso (MXN), which is issued in coins of 0.50, 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos. Bills are issued in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. The exchange rate varies from day to day, but averages $ 15 MXN = US $ 1.

Money exchange offices are easy to find at the airport, as well as in the city center and the Paseo de la Reforma, and money can be changed in many banks. By law, almost no business will accept payments other than Mexican pesos.

Cost of living

You will really enjoy your stay as the cost of living in Mexico is really low. If you are a veteran Wikimaniac then we can tell you without a doubt: This Wikimania will be the cheapest for you. While it may seem so, the low cost of living does not mean a low quality of life.

product MXN USD
A ride on the subway / metro 5,00 0,32
A Big Mac 48,00 3,07
A Big Mac menu 71,00 4,54
A Coca-Cola can (355 ml) 9,00 0,57
Mineral water bottle 12,00 0,8
Corona beer 15,00 1,1
Starbucks Frapuccino Venti 45,00 2,8
Average restaurant meal 200,00 13,69
Affordable three-course menu with soup, rice, beans, meat, salad and water (Comida Corrida in Spanish). 40,00–50,00 2,73–3,4
Music CD 180,00 12,32
Gasoline, 1 liter 13,39 0,91

All prices are in USD and are based on an exchange rate taken from Oanda.com on June 10, 2015.

About security

Policewoman on patrol in Mexico City

Various news agencies have reported drug crime across Mexico over the past few years. In the name of transparency, we must affirm that international criminal organizations exist and that drug-related crime is real. However, it is important to take a close look at the hard facts and differentiate them.

Too often news outlets focus on their sales numbers, and it's no secret that shock stories and hype are the main reasons why which stories sell and which don't. We therefore ask our visitors to be careful with news about violence and crime in Mexico (and Mexico City).

The United States Department of State has a site with travel warnings to various countries. The Mexico Travel Alerts page (last updated December 24, 2014) provides a list of alerts broken down by state. The December 24th review of Estado de Mexico and Mexico City revealed:

Mexico City (also: Federal District, Bundesdistrikt): No indications. See also the discussion in the Estado de Mexico section for areas in the expanded Mexico City metropolitan area. Estado de Mexico: Toluca and Teotihuacan are two of the top travel destinations in Estado de Mexico - Beware of the state of Mexico. Many areas of the state have high crime rates and high levels of insecurity, as organized criminal groups have expanded their activities here from the states of Guerrero and Michoacan, and there are also high rates of street crime. The September 2014 INEGI Crime Victims Survey showed that the state of Mexico has the highest crime rates in Mexico, with 47,778 victims per 100,000. Because of the high crime rates and the high level of uncertainty, one should avoid unnecessary trips to the places Coacalco, Ecatepec, Nezahualcoyotl, La Paz, Valle del Chalco, Solidaridad, Chalco and Ixtapaluca, which are in the eastern part of the Greater Mexico City metropolitan area, to the east of Federal District Mexico and Benito Juarez Airport, unless one drives directly through these areas on main roads.Avoid unnecessary trips to the town of Tlatlaya in the southwest part of the state and unnecessary trips on the roads between Santa Marta in the southwest part of the state and Huitzilac in the state of Morelos, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas, because of the high crime rate and high level of insecurity.

The UK government is continuously updating travel tips for visitors to Mexico. The report of December 19, 2014 states:

(…) Most of the victims of crime and violence in Mexico are criminal Mexicans, but the security situation also creates security risks for foreigners. Be warned that street crime exists as well as more serious violent crimes like robbery, assault and carjacking. In particular, in some parts of Mexico one should avoid being drawn into drug fights between criminal groups.

The report also includes specific advice on safety and security, terrorism, local law and practice, entry requirements for UK citizens, health, natural disasters and cash.

Mexico City is actually one of the safest cities in the country. For example, the murder rate is lower in Mexico City than in Boston, Pittsburgh, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Oakland, and St. Louis.

To increase the safety of our guests, we have spoken to local and federal law enforcement agencies and reached agreements to keep Wikimedia visitors safe during their visit so they can enjoy our city and make it their home away from home.

Although police interrogations are rare, we recommend that you have your passport with you. The city center attracts many tourists and the police usually question them if they suspect alcohol consumption in public places (prohibited by law). These interviews are preventive and non-violent (with the exception of the rare instances where someone breaks the law and violently resists arrest). We trust that our guests will respect the law and use their common sense to enjoy their stay as best as possible.

News agencies

Below are some major news agencies that have dedicated Mexico news sites. This list is by no means exhaustive, and the 2015 Wikimania staff encourage everyone to update the list for safety, economy, and general travel tips.

Wikimania 2015 staff do not endorse any particular view of the following media presented here:

Other major news outlets without their own Mexico site:

See also

Individual evidence