Living in Mexico CityIyna Bort Caruso
In Mexico City, gateway to Latin America, old and new coexist loud and large. It is the oldest capital in the Americas and has the largest population after Sao Paulo, Brazil, at 8.9 million. This high altitude megalopolis also has the most extensive underground transit system in Latin America and perhaps, most surprisingly, more museums than even New York or Paris--some 160 institutions and galleries.
Among the pre-Hispanic relics, Colonial-era castles and youthful art scene live a community of Mexico’s elite.
Mexico City was first built by the Aztecs in 1325 on an artificial island and known by the name of Tenochtitlán. It was the power center of the Aztec Empire until forces under conquistador Hernando Cortez captured it, claimed it for Spain and renamed it Mexico City in the 16th century.
The architecture is a showcase of eras with structures that are noteworthy for their histories as much as their styles. The spires of the baroque Metropolitan Cathedral can be seen for miles. Construction on this monumental structure began in the 1500s and took more than two centuries to complete. The Palacio de Bellas Artes--the Palace of Fine Arts--is arguably one of the city’s most beautiful and important landmarks; its stage “curtain” is constructed of Tiffany stained glass. Torre Latinoamericana lost its status long ago as the city’s tallest tower long ago but the 44-story skyscraper still ranks among the most recognizable and remains a legendary contributor to the eclectic skyline.
The Plaza de la Constitucion, more commonly referred to as Zócalo, is the main square in the historic center of the city and one of the world’s largest. West of the square are some of Mexico City’s wealthiest areas. Polanco is one. The walkable, people-watching neighborhood offers top restaurants, beautifully restored villas and shopping that includes Avenida Presidente Masaryk, which is considered Mexico’s answer to Rodeo Drive. Polanco also borders the 1,700-acre Chapultepec Park. La Condesa is a leafy district, high end yet hip with a concentration of art deco gems and a robust nightlife scene. Lomas de Chapultepec is another area popular with high net worth buyers who gravitate to the historic collection of protected Spanish colonial revival homes from the early 20th century as well as some of the biggest mansions in the city. Many of these areas are popular with expats for their proximity to international schools.