A Tour Of Mexico City in 10 Famous Buildings

Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), Mexico City, Mexico
Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), Mexico City, Mexico | © drvega / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lauren Cocking
Northern England Writer24 May 2017

Teeming with famous buildings, Mexico City has an abundance of fascinating architecture, whether that be modern in design or ancient in inspiration. While there are too many intriguing offerings to see in one day, or even one lifetime, in this metropolitan capital, here are our top ten recommendations to start you off.

Catedral Metropolitana

Cathedral, Museum
Map View
Catedral Metropolitana on Zocalo, Mexico City
© David Crossland / Alamy Stock Photo
The imposing Metropolitan Cathedral is easily one of Mexico’s and Latin America’s most iconic landmarks, given that it is the oldest and largest. Occupying a prime location looming over the capital’s zócalo,it makes the perfect place to start this tour of Mexico City’s most famous buildings. Constructed using stone from ancient Aztec ruins, its design was inspired by Spanish Gothic architecture and the construction spanned almost three centuries.

Palacio Postal

Building, Post Office
Map View
The Post Office Palace, Palacio de Correos, is one the most brilliant examples of the eclectic architecture of the the first years of the XXth Century
Palacio Postal | © Lucas Vallecillos / Alamy Stock Photo
Cross the zócaloand you’ll reach the epic Palacio Postal, also known as the Palacio de Correos. This grand post office is much more fascinating than it sounds; built early in the 20th century, the architecture is an amalgamation of many different and eclectic designs, and despite suffering damage in the 1985 earthquake, it has since been restored to its former glory. Designed by the same Italian architect who oversaw the Palacio de Bellas Artes, it’s a masterpiece of a building and easily one of Mexico’s most famous.

Palacio de Bellas Artes

Map View
Palace Bellas Artes, Mexico City
© Donisl / Alamy Stock Photo
Speaking of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, this instantly recognizable edifice is awe inspiring. Gleaming white walls, pillars and sumptuous curves dominate the external façade, and the plethora of art that lies inside is equally as fascinating. However, the signature, standout feature of Bellas Artes is its shimmering orange and yellow hued roof which makes for a magnificent sight when viewed from above. Head to the top floor of the building opposite for the best view.

Casa de los Azulejos

Map View
Sambors The Casa de los Azulejos or palace of the Counts of the Orizaba Valley, as it is also known, is a palace located in the historic center of Mexico City, on the pedestrian street of Madero and Calle Cinco de Mayo.(© Photo: LuisGutierrez / NortePho
The Casa de los Azulejos | © Luis Gutierrez /NortePhoto / Alamy Stock Photo
Although Bellas Artes trumps any building’s roof, the tiled external walls of Casa de los Azulejos – which literally translates to The House of Tiles – are a force to be reckoned with. White and blue toned tiles cover the length and breadth of the walls of this building and make it a truly spectacular Mexico City sight. Originating from Puebla state, the tiles were added to this 18th-century house after it was built. Casa de los Azulejos wins bonus points for having an early José Clemente Orozco mural in the interior.

Castillo Chapultepec

Archaeological site, Building, Museum, Historical Landmark
Map View
Mexico, Mexico City, Chapultepec Castle, Hallway of the Stained Glass Windows, National Museum Of History
© Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Perched high in the Bosque de Chapultepec, this magnificent castillois an awesome example of 18th–century architecture and was once the home to Mexican Emperor Maximilian I and his wife, Empress Carlota. Now the home to the fantastic Museo Nacional de Historia, it sees thousands of visitors annually and is one of the most popular buildings in the city. Plus, it was used as a filming location for the 1996 Romeo + Julietfilm starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes!

Torre Latinoamericana

Map View
A view of the top of the Torre Latinoamericana (Latin American Tower) antenna, early in the morning, Mexico City DF.. Image shot 02/2008. Exact date unknown.
The top of the Torre Latinoamericana | © Emiliano Rodriguez / Alamy Stock Photo
Mexico City is one that deserves to be seen from above. Although it has many skyscrapers and outstanding buildings, its true magic is in its impressive vastness. Sprawling lights as far as the eye can see, slope up the sides of hills for miles around and drive home the actual hugeness of this capital city. Which makes the view from the 41st floor bar, Miralto, such a special one. Once the tallest skyscraper in Mexico City, Torre Latinoamericana remains one of the most legendary and accessible.

Museo Soumaya

Map View
Mexico Mexico City Ciudad de Federal District Distrito DF D.F. CDMX Hispanic Mexican Colonia Granada Plaza Carso Museo Soumaya Museum Carlos Slim priv
© Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 2 / Alamy Stock Photo
Built in 1994, this futuristic, glittering building with its sweeping upward curves is the brainchild of Mexican architect Fernando Romero. Named for the deceased wife of owner Carlos Slim, it’s marvelous inside and out. Home to some of the greatest pieces by the European Old Masters, as well as several thousand pieces by Mexican artists, the delight of Museo Soumaya doesn’t lie solely in its striking architectural prowess.

Palacio Nacional

Map View
Mexico City Mexico Ciudad de Federal District Distrito DF D.F. CDMX Mexican Hispanic Centro Historico Historic Center Centre National Presidential Pal
Palacio Nacional | © Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 11 / Alamy Stock Photo
Returning to the very epicentre of the historic quarter of Mexico City, we have the Palacio Nacional. The focal point of annual Independence Day celebrations, when the current president gives the grito(cry) of independence, it runs the length of the east side of the city’s zócalo.If you enter through the central Baroque archway, you’ll find within some of Diego Rivera’s famed murals depictions of figures from Mexico’s Aztec heritage, such as Quetzalcoatl. As well as housing murals, it also plays host to one of the largest libraries in the country; Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada.

La Secretaria de Educación Pública

Map View
Diego Rivera murals ( wall paintings) in the Secretary of Public Education building in Mexico City. Image shot 2012. Exact date unknown.
Diego Rivera murals in the Secretary of Public Education building, Mexico City | © Ruslan Bustamante / Alamy Stock Photo
This unassuming building is externally very forgettable, especially considering its location in the heart of the architecturally overwhelming and fascinating historic center. However, this has made our list simply for the free to access, abundant and beautiful Diego Rivera murals which adorn the internal walls. There are said to be over 200 and they are worth seeing whether you’re interested in Mexican art or not. What’s more, it’s a relatively unknown destination for many tourists, so it’s a blissfully quiet spot in bustling Mexico City.

Iglesia de San Felipe de Jesus

Map View
Finally, we round of our tour of Mexico City’s most famous buildings with another iconic religious edifice; the Iglesia de San Felipe de Jesus. This Catholic church is located just away from the central square and can be found on Calle Madero. Constructed over a period of 13 years in the 19th century, it features a Neo-Romanesque exterior with many internal mosaics in a Neo-Byzantine style.