Centro Histórico

The historical, governmental, and cultural center of Mexico City celebrates the past and lives in the present.

Whether you’re slowed down by pilgrims on the way to Mexico City’s cathedral or performers re-enacting Aztec history in the Zócalo, rushing through the streets of Centro Histórico is not an option. The city’s oldest traditions, oldest buildings, and oldest businesses are here, right in the heart of the capital. Its volume of experience is palpable—it’s exactly why authors, musicians, and museum-goers continue to gravitate to the city’s core every hour, every day, every year.

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On the Map

Centro Histórico is bordered by Tabacalera, Tránsito, Morelos, Buenavista, Juárez, Guerrero, Obrera, Roma Norte, and Doctores

  • Public transit is Easy
  • Having a car is Possible

Mexico City International Airport: 30 minutes by car or 30 minutes by public transit
Bosque de Chapultepec: 30 minutes by car or 35 minutes by public transit
Zócalo: 5 minutes by car or 5 minutes walking
Alameda Central: 5 minutes by car or 10 minutes walking

History and Culture Collide In the Center of the City

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

The focal point of the city and, arguably, the focal point of the country, Centro Histórico rambles, ambles, remembers, and performs every day in the heart of Mexico City.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Locals, tourists, government workers, historical figures, street performers, school groups, and sidewalk vendors stream through the center of Centro Histórico on their way to the Zócalo, the city's main square whose formal name is Plaza de la Constitución.

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El Zócalo may be its sobrenombre (nickname, you might say), but it's the name that sticks.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Activity in the Zócalo is incessant and predictably undefinable. It's usually memorable. It's often performed in memoriam.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Many of the performances recall ageless Aztec stories and adventures of Spanish conquistadors.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Outside of the square's reverent cathedral and striking National Palace, everyday shops, stores, and cafes open their doors along Eje Central.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

In Centro Histórico, you'll never feel alone.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

People are everywhere in this colorful, historic neighborhood.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Every day is history in the making.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Every day is history made.

Pixel
Really love the neighborhood."

Doris

Visited in 2013

Centro Histórico's Immaculate Architecture

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Centro Histórico's iconic character makes it a colloquial reference point for locals giving directions.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Representing hundreds of years of the city's history, its churches and cathedrals draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, architectural enthusiasts, and history buffs every year.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Their designs reflect classic Mexican Baroque and gothic architectural stylings.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Their altars can become quite busy.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Away from the noisy confusion of life, visitors can find peace with their souls.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

It's common for the churches' plazas to fill with activity.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Vendors sell flowers to place on altars. People beg for change. Bells toll.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

They toll for thee.

Pixel
Surrounded by restaurants, shops, bars, and public transportation. Very clean, comfortable, and most importantly safe..."

Jose Luis

Visited in 2012

Everyday Shops In Mexico City's Historic Heart

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Mexico City's central neighborhood is more than a center for government relations and religious confirmations. It's a center for business, commerce, and everyday errands.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Many of Centro Histórico's streets are reserved for specific vocations. One street might sell textiles, one might sell shoes.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Calle Tacuba is famous for its perfume shops, Calle Donceles for its used book stores, Calle Justo Sierra for its camera businesses, and Plaza Santo Domingo and neighboring Belisario Dominguez for their printing presses.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

The area is famous for its culture of loyal consumption.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Locals have patronized the same repair shops, the same newspaper stalls, the same dairy vendors, and the same bookstores for decades.

Pixel
The neighborhood is also full of life if you want to eat and drink in really good restaurants and [see] small local businesses..."

Everyday Markets In the Middle of the City

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Everyday markets offer every kind of product locals might look for. The markets in Mexico City's center are especially chaotic.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Their flower vendors, cheese mongers, candy sellers, herb growers, electronic stalls, and textile, material, and plastic purveyors infuse Centro Histórico's crowded sidewalks with color, sound, and aroma.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

La Merced remains the largest market in the city while its neighbor to the north, El Mercado de Dulces, is a smaller, sweeter market consumed by the decadence of candies and pastries.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Mercado de Sonora sells everything from party costumes and hand-made pottery to renowned offerings of religious paraphernalia and ritualistic artifacts.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

North of both La Merced Market and Mercado de Sonora blooms Mercado de Jamaica.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Cut flowers, potted plants, and live herbs sell themselves at Mercado de Jamaica.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Destination Dulce: Mexico City's Sweet Center

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Centro Histórico attracts sweet teeth from around the city.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Grandmothers' grandmothers have been venturing to the center for its flaky elephant ears and three-tiered cakes for centuries.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Many of Centro Histórico's pastelerías are hundreds of years old.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

The center's pastry shops and cafes command a considerable amount of attention.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

They're hubs of activity, but they differ from the leisurely feel of European sidewalk cafes.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

They rumble with the clanking of ceramic hot chocolate mugs, cocktail glasses, forks on porcelain plates, and heated political discussions.

Centro Histórico's Museums and Galleries

MexicoCity Overviews Vera

With the highest concentration of museums in the city, Centro Histórico chronicles the life and times of Mexico City and the global community, past and present.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera
MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Whether traditional or avant garde, most exhibitions show in works of art themselves.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Works hang in the Museo del Estanquillo. They hang in the Palacio Postal. They hang in grand palaces, ornate schools, and historical institutions.

MexicoCity CentroHistorico Vera

Art on art on art.

Photography

Airbnb works with local photographers to capture the spirit of neighborhoods all around the world. The photography on this page includes work by:

Alicia Vera is a photographer based in Mexico City. She studied at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and eventually moved to DF to rediscover her families' roots. Her past clients include Condé Nast Traveler, 360 Magazine, Delta Sky Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. She is an Eddie Adams XXIII alumni.

Alicia Vera

View website »

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