The city, with its local color and cultural attractions, is a focal point for tourists. The ruins of the Aztec Templo Mayor have been excavated, and many monuments of Spanish colonial architecture remain in spite of subsoil and seismic threats. The cathedral and the National Palace are on the great central square, the Plaza de la Constitución, where the streets of the old town crisscross in a rough grid. From the Plaza the great avenues span out to the far sections of the capital. Many colonial churches exist, notably on the Paseo de la Reforma, which cuts across the city to Chapultepec.
Public buildings of the 19th cent. have a ponderous grandeur that shows French influence, but the newly built edifices are starkly modern. Murals by the modern artists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros grace both older buildings and newer ones (e.g., the Palace of Fine Arts, the National Palace, and the National Preparatory School). The National Autonomous Univ. of Mexico, founded in the 16th cent., is housed in University City (opened 1952), built on a lava outcrop in the outskirts. Praised in its day for its modernist style, it is now joined by the even more dramatic National Center of the Arts. Opened in 1994, the complex houses the fine and performing arts schools and includes a library and performance spaces.
Among noted religious and recreational centers are Guadalupe Hidalgo and Xochimilco. In popular Chapultepec Park, a children's museum opened in 1993; the nearby national auditorium provides first-rank entertainment and the zoo has been completely redone. The Frida Kahlo Museum (Casa Azul), Diego Rivera Studio Museum, and Dolores Olmedo Patiño Museum contain works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The Leon Trotsky Museum is Trotsky's former home and site of his assassination.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.