Catedral Metropolitana#8 in Best Things To Do in Mexico City
Mexico's national cathedral – the vaulting, austere, ornate church on the Zócalo's north end – was once the site of an ancient Aztec precinct, so it has housed the city's spiritual core for centuries. The cathedral was built between 1573 and 1813 after the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlan and is considered one of Mexico City's many must-see attractions. Highlights of the cathedral include five naves, 14 chapels, underground catacombs and a painting by famed Spanish artist Bartolome Esteban Murillo.
Depending on your interest in Mexican history and architecture, you could spend anywhere from an hour to a half a day at the cathedral. Recent visitors said the massive structure is stunning to behold, and even if you don't want to take the time to explore the inside, it's worth the photo op of the exterior. The cathedral is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free. Note that the bell tower is closed for structural safety issues. For more information, including Mass times, visit the cathedral's website (in Spanish).
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#1 Museo Nacional de Antropología
Located within the famous Chapultepec Forest, the Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Museum of Anthropology) holds artifacts from Mexico's pre-Columbian era, dating from about 100 B.C. to A.D. 1521. The facility houses artifacts, including the famous Aztec Calendar Stone, known as Piedra del Sol, as well as the famed 16th-century statue of Xochipilli, the Aztec god of art, games, beauty, dance and maize (among others). The museum offers a look at how tradition, culture and life were formed in all regions of Mexico.
The museum is so extensive that many travelers claim you can spend a whole day exploring the many collections and exhibits and recommend giving yourself plenty of time to explore. As one of the largest and most visited museums in Mexico, the grounds are also home to a gift shop, a cafeteria, a locker room and the National Library of Anthropology and History.
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