AAA Editor Notes
Zócalo is bounded by avs. Corregidora, Seminario (Pino Suárez), Madero and Monte de Piedad (M: Zócalo, line 2). The Zócalo (SOH-cah-loh), officially Plaza de la Constitución, is an enormous, open expanse of concrete covering nearly 10 acres; only Moscow's Red Square is larger. Emperor Moctezuma's palace and the Templo Mayor stood on the site when the Spanish made their way into the city of Tenochtitlan and proceeded to tear both to the ground.
The Zócalo (the word means “base of a pedestal”) follows the Spanish blueprint for colonial settlements staked out in the Americas: a central plaza surrounded by a cathedral and government buildings. A Mexican flag stands in the center of the square; residents come here to participate in manifestaciones—street marches and demonstrations—as well as to just hang out.
Commemorative historical celebrations are held regularly. A flag-lowering ceremony performed daily at 6 p.m. is filled with flourishes of ceremonial pomp. Massive crowds assemble for Sept. 15 and 16 Independence Day celebrations. The plaza also is regularly filled with the sound of music; Paul McCartney and Justin Bieber are among the superstars who have performed before tens of thousands of fans.
The seventh-floor dining terrace at the Majestic Hotel (Avenida Madero on the west side of the square) offers a bird's-eye perspective of the activity below. Here you'll enjoy a panoramic view away from the swarms of people that fill the Zócalo for major events.
Note: This is a very crowded, congested part of the city. Do not even attempt to negotiate the chaotic traffic or find a place to park on your own. If you want to walk around and explore for an hour or so, hire a licensed guide, a private driver or a hotel taxi to drop you off, wait and then take you back to where you're staying. It's best to avoid the Zócalo and surrounding streets after dark.