Mexico City ( Ciudad de México ), capital of the country, lies at an altitude of more than 2,200 meters in the Anáhuac Valley, surrounded by mighty mountain ranges. The city’s location is breathtaking; two magnificent snow-covered volcanoes, Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, tower above it at heights of more than 5,000 meters. The city preserves countless reminders of its past, though pre-Columbian art and architecture exist only in isolated fragments and museum reproductions since the Spanish Conquistadors built their new city on the ruins of the old Aztec metropolis of Tenochtitlán. A number of the splendid Baroque churches and palaces built during this early colonial period survive.
While Mexico City is big, both in terms of population and area, most of the city’s best tourist attractions and popular things to do are in the historic city center ( Centro Histórico de la Ciudad ), a 15-square-kilometer UNESCO World Heritage Site containing more than 1,400 important buildings from the 16th to 19th centuries. For travelers, this is one of the best places to visit in Mexico as examples of the city’s Aztec origins and its Spanish colonization can all be enjoyed on foot.