The heart of Mexico City is the Zócalo, built by the Spanish right over the devastated ceremonial centre of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán. Extraordinary uncovered ruins – chief of which is the Templo Mayor – provide the Zócalo’s most compelling attraction, but there’s also a wealth of great colonial buildings, among them the huge cathedral and the Palacio Nacional with its striking Diego Rivera murals. You could easily spend a couple of days in the tightly packed blocks hereabouts, investigating their dense concentration of museums and galleries, especially notable for works by Rivera and his “Big Three” companions, David Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco.
West of the Zócalo the centro histórico stretches through the main commercial district past the Museo Nacional de Arte to the sky-scraping Torre Latinoamericana and the Palacio de Bellas Artes with its gorgeous Art Deco interior. Both overlook the formal parkland of the Alameda, next to which you’ll find a number of museums, principally the Museo Franz Mayer, which houses an excellent Alameda-related arts and crafts collection, and the Museo Mural Diego Rivera, with the artist’s famed Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda. Further west, the Monumento a la Revolución heralds the more upmarket central suburbs, chiefly the Zona Rosa, long known as the spot for plush shops and restaurants, though that title has largely been usurped by swanky Polanco and hipper Condesa.