P.za de la Constitución S/N, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06010 Ciudad de México, CDMX

The “Plaza de la Constitución”, better known as the Zócalo, is the epicenter of the capital of Mexico, and of its culture as a country, where the Aztecs built their main ceremonial center, the “teocalli”, for the ancient city of Tenochtitlán (the actual site of the teocalli is located just a few meters northeast of the Zócalo, to be exact), and where later, when it was now known as the “Plaza de Armas”, the Spanish celebrated their own important celebrations, like the proclamations instituting the new viceroys, and other announcements that came from the “mother country”. It was here where two different cultures, literally one on top of the other, began to fuse together, and a call was placed to thousand of natives, creoles, and “mestizos” to go and expand the influence of this new mixture, what we now know and understand as “mexicanness”, to the farthest confines of a vast territory that some centuries later could call itself a nation.
In the meantime, around its borders began the construction of streets, buildings, and monuments that were to give way to the myths and personalities that today populate the history of what is known as the Primer Cuadro de la Ciudad de México; which has its borders in Venustiano Carranza to the south; República de Perú, to the north; Correo Mayor as its eastern limit and Eje Central the western boundary. There really are very few pleasures as sublime as walking on 5 de Mayo (the street) on a cloudy day and admiring the shades of gray, mentioned by poet Octavio Paz as the “grays and reds” that are evoked by the buildings, murals, and the overcast sky in this part of the city.
“The Zócalo, vast as the firmament: diaphanous space, a frontón of echoes” – Octavio Paz

The weekends can be a neverending bustle in the Zócalo, with vendors setting up shop just enough time before they are displaced by the local authorities (a never-ending struggle), while tourists stop to take a picture of the huge Mexican flag which is raised right in the middle of this massive space. Concerts, meetings, protests, massive Día de Los Muertos altars, there’s also an interminable list of events that take place in a huge concrete plaza that just begs for people to assemble. Some events have a social cause; some don’t, like the massive public concerts offered by international stars like Paul McCartney and Roger Waters.

The Zócalo can be considered as the beating heartbeat of a country, even in today’s digital and impersonal world, one can visit the concrete plaza to get a feel of “what’s going on” or what the mood is in the country. Empty and deserted, just for you and your thoughts; or filled to the brim with people at a massive concert, it’s always a special place to visit.


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