Richly layered and elegant with an edge, the capital of Mexico is brimming with incredible art, design, history, and architecture at every turn.
As the capital of Mexico and the most populous city in North America, Mexico City is as complex as it is large—and its layered history and culture make it fertile grounds for some of the most exciting design, architecture, and art around the globe.
Founded by the Aztecs in 1325 as Tenochtitlan, Mexico City, also known as MXDF, is the oldest capital city in the Americas; it was nearly completely destroyed in 1521 by the Spanish, who then promptly redesigned and rebuilt the city. The new city was planned with a mixture of colonial European urban design with a local twist: the basic existing Aztec layout remained, but the destroyed Aztec temples were replaced with a grand Catholic church at the center of the city, along with royal and religious palaces and government buildings.
A new era of construction and building design came after the Mexican War of Independence in 1821, which ended the rule of Spain over Mexico, and throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the city followed more of a European-style Art Nouveau. During the 20th century, Modernism in art, architecture, and design took hold in Mexico City as the city expanded, and the 1968 Olympics had a lasting effect with the construction of the subway system, large-scale sports facilities, and a logo that designers still admire today.
All of these factors have produced a culture that is rich, multi-layered, and contradictory (in the best way) in this sprawling city, and this is reflected in the art, design, and cuisine that is undeniably alluring and captivating. Read on as we explore this city’s range of art and history, artisanal shops, mezcalerias, and historic and modern hotels—but be forewarned, this is just the tip of the iceberg!