Plaza de la Constitución
Located mere yards from the fascinating Centro Historico, Plaza de la Constitucion represents the municipal center for Mexico City, and ceremonial hub for the ancient Aztec empire – Tenochtitlan. From modern day military parades, to the crowning of viceroys, Mexico City's Zócalo (administratively known as “Plaza de la Constitucion”) has been the focal point for every major religious and ceremonial tradition, since the 16th Century.
Prior to the Spanish conquest, Plaza de la Constitucion was little more than a ceremonial field, upon which military drills and parades took place. Its position at the center of Tenochtitlan meant it was also the main thoroughfare from the South, to the Palace of Moctezuma II (now the National Palace.) Plaza de la Constitucion remained the governing seat of the city after the fall of the Aztec Empire around 1429, prompting a new wave of building and development. Spanning a total area of 57,600 metres², the plaza is the largest in New Mexico, and third largest in the world after Moscow's Red Square.
Bounded by 200 year old buildings of both royal and religious significance, Zócalo has been a blueprint of symmetric design for many other famous plazas, including those at Oaxaca and Guadalajara. Crowned by the 16th Century Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary of Mexico City and Metropolitan Tabernacle to the North, it remains the epicenter for major religious festivities, such as Corpus Christi and Holy Week. “ Zócalo” (meaning “base” or “plinth”) was attributed to the plaza following plans to build a Column of Independence, commemorating the events of 16th September, 1810, however the memorial never materialized. Instead, the Mexican Army conduct a daily ritual of raising and lowering the national flag “La Bandera de Mexico” (usually at 6 am and 6pm) – a spectacle that draws thousands of international tourists every summer.
Gateway to the Centro Historico, the Zócalo lures with its own fine assembly of characterful buildings. Designed by Mexican architect Alonso Garcio Bravo, the new Constitucion would represent the re-birth of New Mexico, featuring buildings of such exquisite architectural artistry, the world would once more note this divine nation on its own merits. Portales de Mercaderes running almost the entire length of the West boundary allowed immediate access for tradesmen to the canal behind, while the official buildings for government and aristocracy were set back along the Southern and Eastern boundary. Arguably the best views may be had from the Building of Latin America Observation Tower, or Cathedral Tower.