From Mexico City, there are places worth visiting in every direction. Those covered in this section can all be taken in on day-trips from the DF, but many are worth a longer stay. The heart of this region is the Valley of México, a mountain-ringed basin dominated by the vast snowcapped peaks of Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl. Since long before the Mexican nation existed, it has been the country’s centre of gravity. Even in the days of the Aztecs, cities such as Texcoco (now in the State of México) and Tlaxcala (now capital of its own little state) vied with Tenochtitlán (Mexico City) for domination.
Much of the region around Mexico City belongs to the State of México, whose capital is Toluca, to the west, but the state actually reaches all the way round the northern edge of Mexico City and covers its eastern side as well. Also encrusted around the capital are the small states of Hidalgo (to the north), Morelos (to the south) and Tlaxcala (to the east). The city of Puebla, though its state sprawls eastward towards Veracruz, is tucked in tidily next to Tlaxcala, just as Taxco is next to Morelos, though actually it belongs to Guerrero, the same state as Acapulco. All around the region, but particularly to the north of Mexico City, you’ll be able to see impressive pre-Hispanic sites.