Mexico City is the largest Spanish speaking city in the world and one of the most important financial centres in the Americas. The centuries-old city is famous for lots of things, for instance, its world-class cultural institutes, Aztec heritage, beautiful buildings and vibrant markets and street food scene. With UNESCO sites, parks and palaces to explore, the most elevated city in North America has a lot to offer. So, whether you are planning a trip or are just curious to know more, here are some of the most interesting facts about Mexico City.
7 Interesting Facts About Mexico City
1. Mexico City is the second most populated city in the Americas
Mexico City is the second-most populous city in the Americas. It has a population of 22,085,140 (as of 2022). It is the fifth most populous city in the world. Tokyo is the most populous and Delhi is in second place, followed by Shanghai and Sao Paulo. For many years, until 2005, Mexico City was the world’s second most populated city after Tokyo.
2. Mexico City is the highest city in North America
Sitting at an elevation of 2,240 meters (7,350 feet) above sea level, Mexico City is the highest metropolis on the North American continent. That’s about a mile-and-a-half up! Denver, situated a mile above sea level (1,610 meters), is the second-highest city in North America.
3. Mexico City is the oldest city in North America
The Aztecs founded the city in 1325. This makes Mexico City the oldest city in North America. The Mexica people formerly built the city as Tenochtitlan on an island in Lake Texcoco and called it Mexico-Tenochtitlan. The city flourished and grew between the years 1325 and 1521. However, during the 1521 siege of Tenochtitlan, invaders almost destroyed the city. This was a battle between the Aztecs and a coalition of Spanish and indigenous combatants. Following this siege, the Spanish conquistadors razed the city and rebuilt it as Mexico City.
4. Mexico City has three UNESCO sites
UNESCO declared three places in Mexico City as World Heritage Sites – the Luis Barragán House and Studio, Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco. Luis Barragán was a Mexican architect and engineer. His house and studio are preserved as they are outstanding examples of his “creative work in the post-Second World War period“. UNAM is, according to UNESCO “one of the most significant icons of modernity in Latin America”. Xochimilco lies 28km south of the Historic Center of Mexico City. Both locations have well-preserved Aztec heritage and fine 19th- and 20th-century public buildings, for instance, the Palacio de Bellas Artes.
5. Mexico City is home to the largest public square in Latin America
At is 57,600 m2 (240 m × 240 m), Plaza de la Constitución is the second-largest public square on the planet – the largest is Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Locals call the square the zócalo (plinth). As for how it got this nickname, well, officials planned to build a column as a monument to Independence in the square, however, they never finished the project. They only erected the base (zócalo), hence the nickname.
6. Mexico City is home to the largest urban park in Latin America
The Chapultepec Forest, also called Bosque de Chapultepec, in Mexico City is the largest urban park in Latin America. In fact, one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere. At just over 686 hectares (1,695 acres) this park is huge, for instance, it is twice the size of Central Park in New York. Not only is it one of the oldest urban parks in Latin America, but it is also one of the oldest urban parks in the world.
7. The only Royal Castle in the Americas is in Mexico City
Chapultepec Castle, located on top of Chapultepec Hill Chapultepec Park, is the only true royal castle on the American continents. Many royals called it home, for instance, Maximilian I of Mexico, Spanish Viceroys and the Austrian Emperor, Maximilian of Hapsburg. The castle is now home to the National Museum of Cultures and visitors can tour both the castle and the exhibitions. Bonus Fact: Chapultepec Castle was a filming location for Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 movie Romeo + Juliet.