You think you know all about Mexico City? Here are 27 fact you probably didn't, together with the pictures that show why you should visit.
After nearly 700 years of history, Mexico City is one of the largest and most important human metropolises on the planet. The city's history is surely complex, and despite the country's issues, its capital is a beautiful place with many things to offer. Mexico City is the largest urban center in the country. It offers thousands of attractions, and its streets and buildings shows the colorful history of a society constructed through centuries of hard work. Here are 27 facts that you probably didn't know about this huge city.
1. The first place ever built in Mexico was the Palacio Virreinal (or "Viceroyal Palace") in 1526. Today, it's known as the Palacio Nacional, or "National Palace."
2. Mexico City is the oldest city in the Americas. Founded in 1325, its original name was Tenochtitlan (in the Nahuatl language), and it served as the capital of the Aztec Empire, which had a population of roughly 300,000—larger than any European city at that time.
3. Mexico City, previously known as the Federal District, has the second largest auditorium and the third largest stadium in the world.
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4. Mexico City has the largest number of museums in the Americas and the second largest number in the world, second only to London. It has 151 officially-recognized museums (and more than 200 that lack official recognition).
5. The Chapultepec Forest is the largest urban park in Latin America, and it's twice as big as New York's Central Park.
6. Mexico City contributes almost one fifth of Mexico's GDP (17%). It is the eighth richest city in the world. What's more, it has one of the highest economic growths in the world, and its economy is expected to double by 2020—placing it in seventh place, right after Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris and London. More than 20% of the Mexican economy is concentrated in the city, which is why it is one of the main financial and cultural centers of both the Americas and the world.
7. In 2013, Mexico City registered 13 million visitors, 10.3 million of which were domestic tourists. 2.4 million were international.
8. Coyoacán was the first village in America.
9. Chapultepec Castle is the only royal castle in the American continent, and was home to Maximilian I of Mexico, the only monarch of the so-called Second Mexican Empire.
10. The city's central square is commonly known as the Zócalo (plinth) because, in 1843, Mexican president Antonio López de Santa Anna organized a contest to make a memorial to the Mexican Independence. The winner planned the construction of a column at the square's center. However, the project was left unfinished and they were only able to place the column's socket (the "zócalo"), which remained there for several years. Thus it got its name. The square is the second-largest in the world, and the first among the Spanish-speaking countries. It is 46,800 square meters long.
11. The Torre Mayor ("Major Tower") is the tallest building in Mexico, but will soon be surpassed by the Reforma Tower (Reforma 483), the BBVA Bancomer Tower (Reforma 506), and the Mítikah Tower (Real de Mayorazgo 130).
12. Mexico City has the highest taxi population in the world.
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13. Its subway system is the largest one in Latin America, with 12 lines along 226 kilometers (140 miles) in 195 stations. Approximately, 7 million people use it every day.
14. The ice rink installed in December in the Zócalo is the largest in the world.
15. "Los Pinos," which used to be the official residence of Mexican presidents, is not named after its many pine trees, but after an orchard in Michoacán where President Lázaro Cárdenas met his wife.
16. There are at least eight important archaeological sites in Mexico City: Cuicuilco, Santa Cruz Acalpixca, the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco, Santa Cecilia, Tenayuca, Teotihuacan and Acozaco.
17. Mexico City is the second most populous city in the world, just after Tokyo, with more than 20 million inhabitants.
18. Mexico became the first city to hold the Football World Cup twice; first in 1970, and again in 1986.
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19. Builders accidentally discovered some pre-Columbian ruins when doing an excavation for a segment of the city's subway. The ruins contained, among other things, a ceremonial Mexica center, located right at the Pino Suárez station.
20. Mexico's National Autonomous University (UNAM) is one of the largest universities in the world, and the most important cultural project in Mexico. It is home to over 300,000 students and features cinemas, theaters, a soccer team, three orchestras, a campus in France, the US and Canada, and more than 30 museums in Mexico. Around its 170 hectares you can find Siqueiros murals, two fire stations and a TV channel.
21. The Guadalupe Basilica is the second most visited Catholic sanctuary in the world, right after the Vatican, with 14 million visitors per year.
22. Paseo de la Reforma is one of the most important avenues in the world.
23. As the former capital of colonial New Spain, Mexico City has the largest number of palaces in the Americas.
24. UNESCO declared Mexico City's Historic Center, Xochimilco, the UNAM and the Luis Barragán House as World Heritage Sites.
25. In 2013, Mexico City won a Climate Leadership Award for public policies aimed at improving air quality, and it was included in the list of the 10 cities with the best sustainable development.
26. The oldest street in America is located in Mexico City, and it was built around 1377 to 1389 by an Aztec emperor. Today, it is known by five different names: Tacuba, Hidalgo Avenue, Puente de Alvarado, Ribera de San Cosme, and Mexico-Tacuba.
27. Alameda Central was the first urban park in the Americas.
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