|I've walked on many occasions in the old Mexico City and today, I've been to the other part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is linked to it: the city of Xochimilco about 28 km South from Mexico City. The land now occupied by Mexico city used to be a lake. As early as the 14th century, the Aztecs had their capital on the same location, but Tenochtitlan was an island in the middle of a lake. Once conquered, the buildings of that half-a-million inhabitants city were destroyed, the lake was drained and the Spaniards built on the same site the capital of New Spain, using their classical grid pattern.|
This layout is still in place today,
despite the huge growth of the city which now occupies not only the
old island, the entire old lake but also all the valley surrounded by
mountains. The Centro remained intact in it structure and,
surprisingly, even if the megapolis now counts more than 20 millions
people, they don't build much in height. There are only about two
dozens or so of buildings higher than 10 stories, and none of them
are close to the old Centro, except for the Torre Latino-America.
Above, you see the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of the fine arts),
which is one of the most stunning monuments in the Centro.
The fact that all buildings in the
Centro are still of Colonial inspiration and are relatively low
contributes greatly to the charm of the old city. The integrity of
the site is undeniable and many old structures represent the
evolution of the architecture throughout the various eras of the
city. But the fact the streets are narrow and the sidewalks covered
with street vendors does prevent to fully admire the beauties
On the South of the city, you find the
city of Xochimilco which is basically still laid out like the Aztec
designed it half a thousand years ago. They created canals throughout
the city to be used for both navigation and irrigation of the fields.
Today, the city is a tourist attraction and they charge a hefty
price to go in a small boat in the canals. The canals close to the
streets of the city are very polluted, like most Mexico City is.
It's not Amsterdam nor Brugge but it has its charm, especially with
the very colourful boats they're using.