The heart of CDMX (Mexico city)- Zócalo
Updated: Mar 25
Morning in Zócalo - the main square of the Mexican capital. Tourists are still asleep, locals have just started moving towards work. A few dozen people, including a cleaning team, drown in the vastness of the square (57,600 square meters). For the first time, there are no picketers to be found at the Constitution plaza. I try to avoid the direct rays of the rising sun and I wait; maybe the wind will fluster the giant flag raised in the middle of the square and display all its greatness. Suddenly the shouts of the tamal salesman are drowned out by a strange continuous sound. I try to figure out where it’s coming from. Everything points towards the Cathedral. I look around until I notice a group of tourists coming from the Cathedral. I hear German and start a conversation with the guide. "Earthquake," he says. "Everyone is told to go outside the buildings and the metro station, just in case. But don't be afraid. Everything will be fine. " "I'm not afraid," I say. A guide from Guadalajara (Mexico’s second largest city) learned German from his grandfather, who studied it at school, and is now traveling with a group of Germans all over Mexico. We chat, happy to have found common ground (current events cannot be avoided in any corner of the world), exchange numbers, and go our separate ways. On the way to the Cathedral, where apart from all the beauties of religious art, there is also a pendulum showing how far the church has sunk in almost 400 years.
It is difficult to see from inside the Cathedral that the meter has moved, but the sinking of the nearby tabernacle - usually a small space, such as a decorated cabinet, for storing the Eucharist, but in this case - a separate building attached to the Cathedral, is easy to see without any scientific means.
I hope there will be no war and the buildings will only move slowly, just as before...
For many years, Zócalo was an open ceremonial space in the center of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, and according to beliefs of the Aztecs - the center of the whole universe. Later, it was one of the city's markets until Emperor Maximilian I banned the trade and converted the plaza into a Parisian Park in 19th century. Later, after the Mexican Revolution, the trees, grass, and all the ornamentation were removed from the plaza.
Zócalo is where people come to fight for something. I could not imagine the plaza without one single protester, as it is usually adorned with a crowd or sometimes even a whole camp of tents. I have not been on a trip where Zócalo was empty, except for this year, 2022. The pictures below are from June 2021.
The Plaza de la Constitución is surrounded by monumental buildings: the Metropolitan Cathedral (full name - Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven), National Palace (Palacio National - the place where the palace of the Aztec leader Montezuma II was located, later occupied by the conquistador and the first governor of Mexico, Hernán Cortez, residence to some Mexican presidents), and other governmental buildings.
The Plaza is the center of national events, concerts and festivals, such as the annual Independence Day celebrations and Alebrije Parade. Shakira's concert was attended by more than 200,000 people. In 2007, an artificial ice rink was constructed over the Zócalo. The famed Aztec Calendar stone was discovered in Zócalo, which can now be seen at the Museo Nacional de Antropología.
The Cathedral is a very special building in the heart of the capital. Latin America’s largest and oldest cathedral was built over 240 years (1573-1813) and treasures various art objects from at least three centuries. It represents the architectural styles of its building times: Renaissance, Baroque, and Neo-Classic.
It is said that that Spanish Conquistador, Hernán Cortes, was responsible for laying the first stone of the church using the remains of the previous destroyed Aztec temple.
The Cathedral, as well as a the whole city, stands in one of the busiest seismological zones and on the soil saturated with water which is being consumed by millions of the people living in the capital so most of the buildings have been sinking since the time they were built. It seems the sinking of Cathedral buildings has been controlled by pouring concrete in the 2000, but now the whole building is sinking, not just parts of it.
The Cathedral is home to the Americas’ biggest 18th century organs.