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Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución)

Listed under Squares, Streets & Urban Spaces in Mexico City, Mexico.

  • Photo of Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución)
  • Photo of Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución)
Photo of Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución)
Photo by flickr user RightIndex
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This is the world's second largest city square (240 m × 240 m) – after Red Square, an expanse of public space paved using stone from the Aztec palaces and temples that once stood on this spot.  So this is not only a large space, it's also a long time inhabited one.  As with the main squares in most capital cities, Zócalo is used for demonstrations and protests as well as for festivals and national celebrations.  It's also well utilised on a day to day basis – it's like the city's living space – expect to see people on their lunch break, as well as tourists wandering round being entertained by buskers performing traditional style music, and hawkers flogging their wares.  The square is most interesting for visitors during the evenings, when the presidential guards put on a bit of a show taking down the flag for the night.  

The name of the square, Zócalo, actually means plinth, and is a reference to the fact that there's a plinth in the middle of the square on which there was going to be erected a monument to independence, but the government never got around to it.  Instead there's the massive Mexican flag flying.  

The unique looking cathedral at the square's north end, is the Metropolitan Cathedral – the weight of so many architectural styles upon it is due to the fact that it was built on soft ground – once an Aztec sacred site – and it's almost continuously being worked on to prevent it subsiding.  Along the eastern edge of the square runs Mexico's National Palace, or Presidential Palace, where once stood the Aztec Palace, and inside it there's a mural that tells the story of Mexico's history.  

Written by  Mark Lewis.

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