Destination guide: Ciudad de Mexico
Ciudad de Mexico was the birthplace of the Aztec culture and one of the main strongholds of the Spanish Conquest and is a must-see destination for anyone travelling to North America. One of Ciudad de Mexico’s main attractions is the Zocalo, which houses the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the ruins of a Tenochtitlan temple.
Nearby, you can also visit the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Theatre of the Insurgents with a mosaic mural by Diego Rivera and the floating gardens of Xochimilco, as well as many other tourist landmarks. Purchase your flights at LAN.com and get ready for an incredible vacaction in Ciudad de Mexico.
Ciudad de Mexico - Things to do
Bosque de Chapultepec
Chapultepec, which means Hill of Grasshoppers in the Aztec language (Náhuatl), once served as a refuge for the wandering Aztecs before eventually becoming a summer residence for their noble class. In the 15th century, Nezahualcóyotl, ruler of nearby Texcoco, gave permission for the area to be made a forest reserve. The Bosque de Chapultepec has remained Mexico City's largest park to this day. It now covers more than 4 sq km (1.5 sq mi) and has lakes, a zoo and several excellent museums.
Still home to Mexico's high and mighty, it contains the current presidential residence (Los Pinos) and a former imperial and presidential palace (Castillo de Chapultepec). One of its museums, the Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Anthropology Museum), is one of the finest museums of its kind in the world, and too large to cover in a single visit. The ground-floor halls are dedicated to pre-Hispanic Mexico, and the upper level covers the way modern Mexico's indigenous people, the descendants of those pre-Hispanic civilisations, live today. Other museums in the park include the Museo del Caracol, which covers the history of the Mexican people's struggle for liberty, and the Museo Nacional de Historia.
Latitude: 19.4232919749922 / Longitude: -99.1829824447632
Address: Paseo de la Reforma, Chapultepec
Transportation Type: underground rail / Details: Chapultepec, Constituyentes
Centro Histórico (Historic Centre) brims with fine colonial buildings and historic sites. Its nerve centre and the heart of Mexico City is Zócalo, the Plaza de la Constitución, which is home to the powers-that-be. On its east side is the Palacio Nacional, built on the site of an Aztec palace. It now holds the offices of the president, a museum and historical murals by Diego Rivera. To the north of the plaza is the Catedral Metropolitana (built by the Spanish in the 1520s on the site of the Aztecs' Tzompantli).
The plaza is also a stomping ground for political protesters - it's often dotted with makeshift camps of strikers or campaigners. Also in the vicinity is the excavated Templo Mayor (Main Temple) of Aztec Tenochtitlán, thought to be on the exact spot where the Aztecs saw their symbolic eagle with a snake in its beak perching on a cactus - still the symbol of Mexico today. In Aztec belief this was literally the centre of the universe. Museo del Templo Mayor, an excellent museum within the Templo Mayor site, houses artefacts from the site and gives a good overview (in Spanish) of Aztec civilization.
Latitude: 19.4327016579711 / Longitude: -99.1332328319550
Sub-Type: Square, Plaza
Address: El Zócalo
Museo Frida Kahlo
Iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was born, lived and died in the ‘Blue House’, six blocks north of Plaza Hidalgo. Almost every visitor to Mexico City makes a pilgrimage here to gain a deeper understanding of the painter (and maybe to pick up a Frida handbag). Built by her father Guillermo three years before Frida’s birth, the house is littered with mementos and personal belongings that evoke her long, often tempestuous relationship with husband Diego Rivera and the leftist intellectual circle they often entertained here. Kitchen implements, jewelry, outfits, books and other objects from the artist’s everyday life are interspersed with art, photos and letters, as well as a variety of pre-Hispanic art and Mexican crafts.
The collection was greatly expanded in 2007 upon the discovery of a cache of previously unseen items that had been stashed in the attic. Kahlo’s art expresses the anguish of her existence as well as her flirtation with socialist icons: portraits of Lenin and Mao hang around her bed, and in the upstairs studio an unfinished portrait of Stalin stands before a poignantly positioned wheelchair. In another painting, Retrato de la Familia (Family Portrait), the artist’s Hungarian-Oaxacan roots are fancifully entangled.
Latitude: 19.3549390815891 / Longitude: -99.1625225543976
Telephone Number: +52 55 5554 5999
Opening Hours: 10am-6pm Tue-Sun
Pricing: admission M$45
Address: Londres 247
Transportation Type: underground rail / Details: Coyoacán
Museo Nacional de Antropología
The National Museum of Anthropology, among the finest of its kind, stands in an extension of the Bosque de Chapultepec. The vast museum offers more than most people can absorb in a single visit. Concentrate on the regions you plan to visit or have visited, with a quick look at some of the other eye-catching exhibits. Everything is superbly displayed, with much explanatory text translated into English. Audio-guide devices, in English, are available at the entrance.
The complex is the work of Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. Its long, rectangular courtyard is surrounded on three sides by two-story display halls. An immense umbrellalike stone fountain rises up from the center of the courtyard. The 12 ground-floor salas (halls) are dedicated to pre-Hispanic Mexico. The upper level shows how Mexico’s indigenous descendants live today. In a clearing about 100m in front of the museum’s entrance, indigenous Totonac people perform their spectacular voladores rite – ‘flying’ from a 20m-high pole – several times a day.
Latitude: 19.4259530481397 / Longitude: -99.1861796379089
Telephone Number: +52 55 5553 6381
Opening Hours: 9am-7pm Tue-Sun
Pricing: admission M$48
Address: cnr Paseo de la Reforma & Gandhi
Transportation Type: underground rail / Details: Auditorio
Before the Spaniards demolished it, the Teocalli of Tenochtitlán covered the site where the cathedral now stands and the blocks to its north and east. It wasn’t until 1978, after electricity workers happened on an eight-ton stone-disc carving of the Aztec goddess Coyolxauhqui, that the decision was taken to demolish colonial buildings and excavate the Templo Mayor. The temple is thought to be on the exact spot where the Aztecs saw their symbolic eagle, perching on a cactus with a snake in its beak – the symbol of Mexico today. In Aztec belief this was, literally, the center of the universe.
Latitude: 19.4348870547222 / Longitude: -99.1313660144806
Telephone Number: +52 55 5542 4943
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm Tue-Sun
Pricing: admission M$51, free Sun
Address: Seminario 8
Transportation Type: underground rail / Details: Zócalo
Fresh seafood is the star attraction at this stylish dining hall with a seaside ambience. The specialty is tuna fillet Contramar style – split, swabbed with red chili and parsley sauces, and grilled to perfection.
Latitude: 19.4195785415268 / Longitude: -99.1673076152802
Telephone Number: +52 55 5514 9217
Opening Hours: 1:30-6:30pm
Pricing: mains M$140-190
Price Range: Moderate
Address: Durango 200
Transportation Type: bus / Details: Durango
Owner Carmen ‘Titita’ Ramírez has built a reputation on producing down-home Veracruz-style food, though sumptuous regional dishes from all over Mexico are served in this folksy setting. Meaty meals like barbacoa and carnitas (fried pork) are El Bajío’s signature fare.
Latitude: 19.4274808689202 / Longitude: -99.1963398456573
Telephone Number: +52 55 5281 8246
Pricing: dishes M$70-139
Price Range: Moderate
Address: Dumas 7
Transportation Type: underground rail / Details: Auditorio
Possibly the finest place in town for a traditional meal, El Cardenal occupies three floors of a Parisian-style mansion with a pianist sweetly playing in the background. Breakfast is a must, served with a tray of just-baked sweet rolls and a pitcher of frothy, semi-sweet chocolate. For lunch, go for the oven-roasted veal breast, Oaxaca-style chiles rellenos (chili stuffed with meat or cheese, usually fried with egg batter), or in summer, escamoles (ant larvae, a much-coveted specialty).
Latitude: 19.4334604796204 / Longitude: -99.1353893280029
Opening Hours: 8am-6:30pm Mon-Sat, 9am-6:30pm Sun
Pricing: dishes M$105-210
Price Range: High
Address: Palma 23
Transportation Type: underground rail / Details: Zócalo
Now graffitied with pre-Hispanic psychedelia, this classic pulquería alongside the Mercado San Juan has been rediscovered by young artists and musicians. Despite the new look, the pulque is still dispensed straight from the barrel in a variety of flavors like mango and coconut.
Latitude: 19.4300103419355 / Longitude: -99.1427922248840
Opening Hours: 10am-9pm Mon-Sat
Address: Aranda 28
Transportation Type: underground rail / Details: Salto del Agua
Major gigs by Mexican and visiting rock and pop artists take the stage at the 10,000-seat Auditorio Nacional.
Latitude: 19.4246275760882 / Longitude: -99.1949558258057
Sub-Type: Live Music
Telephone Number: +52 55 9138 1350
Opening Hours: 10am-7pm Mon-Sat, 11am-6pm Sun
Address: Paseo de la Reforma 50
Transportation Type: underground rail / Details: Auditorio
A theater within a club (La Bodega), this intimate cabaret showcases some of Mexico’s more offbeat performers, with frequent appearances by the wonderfully surreal Astrid Haddad.
Latitude: 19.4151870692942 / Longitude: -99.1672110557556
Telephone Number: +52 55 5511 7390
Pricing: cover M$100-200
Address: Popocatépetl 25/ Extras: cnr Amsterdam
Transportation Type: bus / Details: Álvaro Obregón
The Saturday bazaar showcases some of Mexico’s best handcrafted jewelry, woodwork, ceramics and textiles. Artists and artisans also display work in Plaza San Jacinto itself and adjacent Plaza Tenanitla.
Latitude: 19.3449580101517 / Longitude: -99.1928529739380
Telephone Number: +52 55 5550 0772
Opening Hours: 10am-6pm Sat
Address: Plaza San Jacinto 11, San Ángel
Transportation Type: bus / Details: La Bombilla
Centro de Artesanías La Ciudadela
A favorite destination for good stuff from all over Mexico. Worth seeking out are Oaxaca alebrijes (whimsical painted animals), guitars from Paracho, and Huichol beadwork. Prices are generally fair, even before you bargain.
Latitude: 19.4308298827439 / Longitude: -99.1491544246674
Opening Hours: 10am-6pm
Address: cnr Balderas & Dondé
Transportation Type: underground rail / Details: Balderas
Plaza del Ángel
Flea market within a mall of high-end antique shops selling silver jewelry, paintings, ornaments and furniture.
Latitude: 19.4251622900000 / Longitude: -99.1659652700000
Opening Hours: Sat & Sun
Address: Londres / Extras: btwn Amberes & Av Florencia, Zona Rosa
Transportation Type: underground rail / Details: Insurgentes
Extras: below the provincial tourist office
Mexico City celebrates some unique local events in addition to all the major nationwide festivals, which often take on a special flavor in the capital.
- Festival de México (www.festival.org.mx) In late March the Centro Histórico’s plazas, temples and theaters become venues for a slew of international artists and performers.
- Semana Santa The most evocative events of Holy Week (late March or early April) are in the Iztapalapa district, 9km southeast of the Zócalo, where a gruesomely realistic Passion Play is enacted. Scenes are performed on Good Friday.
- Foundation of Tenochtitlán Held on August 13, this is a major summit for Concheros (Aztec dancers) on Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco to celebrate the foundation of the Mexican capital.
- Grito de la Independencia Thousands gather in the Zócalo for this September 15 (the eve of Independence Day) celebration to hear the Mexican president’s version of the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores), Hidalgo’s famous call to rebellion against the Spanish in 1810, from the central balcony of the Palacio Nacional at 11pm. Afterwards, there’s a fireworks display over the cathedral.
- Día de Muertos In the lead-up to the Day of the Dead (November 2), elaborate ofrendas (altars) show up everywhere from public markets to metro stations. Some of the best are at the Anahuacalli and the Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño, while a contest for the most creative ofrenda is held at the Zócalo. Major vigils on the nights of the 1st and 2nd take place in the Panteón Civil de Dolores cemetery, in the Bosque de Chapultepec’s 2a Sección, and at San Andres Mixquic, in the extreme southeast of the Distrito Federal.
- Fiesta de Santa Cecilia The patron saint of musicians is honored with special fervor at Plaza Garibaldi on November 22.
- Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe At the Basílica de Guadalupe, the Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe caps 10 days of festivities honoring Mexico’s religious patron. The numbers of pilgrims reach the millions by December 12, when groups of indigenous dancers perform nonstop on the basilica’s broad plaza.
Month by Month
Día de los Reyes Magos – Three Kings’ Day (Epiphany)
Mexican children traditionally receive gifts this day, rather than at Christmas. Between Christmas and January 6, the Santa Clauses around the Alameda Central are replaced by the Three Kings, who are equally popular and look, if anything, even more ill at ease. Families flock in, and stalls selling anything from tacos to music tapes pop up, too.
March - April
Festival de México en el Centro Histórico
The Centro Histórico’s plazas, temples and theaters become performance venues for a slew of international and Mexican artists during this three-week program of classical and popular music, dance, exhibitions and other cultural events.
Semana Santa – Holy Week
The most evocative events of Holy Week are in the Iztapalapa district, 9km southeast of the Zócalo, where more than 150 locals act out a realistic Passion Play. The most emotive scenes begin at noon on Good Friday, when Christ is sentenced, beaten and crowned with real thorns. He then carries his cross up Cerro de la Estrella, where he is ‘crucified’.
Feria de las Flores
San Ángel’s annual flower festival takes place when the poppies traditionally bloomed along the banks of the Río de Magdalena (though these days the river runs underneath the traffic). Hundreds of stalls display flowers and plants at the Jardín de la Bombilla, and there are concerts, parades and awards for the best flower arrangements.
Grito de la Independencia
Thousands gather in the Zócalo on the eve of Independence Day to hear the Mexican president’s version of the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores; Hidalgo’s famous call to rebellion against the Spanish in 1810) from the central balcony of the Palacio Nacional at 11pm. Afterwards, there’s a spectacular fireworks display over the cathedral. For the best views, reserve dinner at one of the terrace restaurants facing the palace.
In odd-numbered years, this month-long photography summit highlights the creative efforts of hundreds of photo artists from Mexico and Latin America, with exhibits held at museums, galleries and cafés around town.
Día de Muertos – Day of the Dead
Mexico’s most characteristic fiesta; the souls of the dead are believed to return to earth this day. Families build ofrendas (altars) in homes and visit graveyards to commune with their dead on the preceding night and the day itself, taking garlands, gifts of the dead one’s favorite foods and so forth. Sweets resembling human skeletons and skulls are sold in almost every market.
In the weeks leading up to the holiday, elaborate ofrendas show up everywhere from public markets to metro stations. Some of the best are at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana and the Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño, while a contest for the most creative ofrenda is held at the Zócalo. Major vigils take place in the Panteón Civil de Dolores cemetery, west of Bosque de Chapultepec, and at San Andres Mixquic, in the extreme southeast of the Distrito Federal.
Fiesta de Santa Cecilia
The patron saint of musicians is honored with special fervor at the Plaza Garibaldi, where a stage is set up for continuous performances by mariachi ensembles.
Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe – Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe
At the Basílica de Guadalupe, the Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe caps 10 days of festivities honoring Mexico’s religious patron, who appeared to an indigenous Mexican, Juan Diego, on the hill Cerro del Tepeyac in 1531. On December 11 and 12, groups of indigenous dancers and musicians from across Mexico perform in uninterrupted succession on the basilica’s broad plaza. The number of pilgrims reaches the millions by December 12, when religious services go on in the basilica almost around the clock.
Sunday morning Paseo de la Reforma is closed to auto traffic from Bosque de Chapultepec to the Alameda Central, and you can join the legions of Chilangos who happily skate or cycle down the avenue each week.
Some top-end hotels, especially those with spas, have day rates available for nonguests. Otherwise there are several city gyms where you can use the equipment and take classes inexpensively.
Telephone Number: 5574-1976
Princing: per day M$40
Opening Hours: 6am-10pm Mon-Fri, 8am-2pm Sat
Address: Álvaro Obregón 160, Roma
Transportation type: bus / Details: Álvaro Obregón
Centro Qi Stylish
Condesa gym with climbing wall and yoga classes
Telephone Number: 5564-46406
Pricing: per day M$220
Opening Hours: 6am-11pm Mon-Thu, 6am-10pm Fri, 8am-6pm Sat, 9am-4pm Sun
Address: Amsterdam 317, Condesa
Transportation type: bus / Details: Sonora
A huge ice-skating rink is installed in the Zócalo during the Christmas holiday season. Loans of ice skates are provided free of charge, if you don’t mind waiting as much as two hours.
One popular place for a morning run is the path that skirts the oval Parque México. Runners also use the broad and narrow paths that crisscross the gardens of Viveros de Coyoacán. Bosque de Chapultepec, of course, offers many kilometers of tree-shaded trails.
Events such as soccer games, bullfights and wrestling can be fascinating: even if the action doesn’t especially interest you, the crowd probably will. Most of the daily newspapers will have a generous sports section, where you can find out who is kicking which ball where (and similar). True enthusiasts should look for La Afición (www.laaficion.com), a Spanish-language daily devoted to sports.
Soccer (or fútbol as it is known here) is the national sport, followed fanatically by millions of Mexicans. Even if you are only mildly interested in the game, attending a partido can be very entertaining. In general, games are an appealingly relaxed affair, with rival fans sitting close to each other exchanging good-hearted competitive banter that rarely resorts to violence – aside from the occasional good-humored soft whack in the face by a toilet roll (or similar) on its missile route to the pitch. Face painting contributes to the good time atmosphere, together with the steady supply of drinks and food that are sold directly to spectators at their seats.
The capital stages two or three soccer matches almost every weekend in the national Primera División. Mexico City’s four teams are: América nicknamed Las Águilas (the Eagles), and the most popular in the country; Las Pumas, of UNAM, which come second in popularity; followed by Cruz Azul (known as Los Cementeros); and lastly, Atlante (Los Potros).
The soccer calendar is divided into a torneo de invierno (winter season, August to December) and a torneo de verano (summer season, January to May), each ending in eight-team playoffs (liguillas) and eventually a two-leg final to decide the champion. Games follow a baffling system which involves a certain amount of unpredictability. For example, it is feasible that a team can come top in the league and be subsequently relegated to a lower position as the latter placement is decided by the overall previous season’s results.
The biggest match of all is El Clásico, between América and Guadalajara, which typically fills the Estadio Azteca with 100,000 flag-waving fans. This is about the only game of the year when you should get tickets in advance. Crowds at other games range from a few thousand to around 70,000.
Tickets are usually available at the gate right up to game time, or can be purchased from Ticketmaster. There are several stadiums that host games. The newspapers La Afición and Esto have the best soccer coverage and there are plenty of websites related to Mexican soccer, including the comprehensive www.futmex.com and www.femexfut.org.mx.
The country’s largest stadium (capacity 114,000) is home to both the América and Atlante clubs. Presided over by an enormous sculpture by the late American artist, Alexander Calder, games are played on weekend afternoons; check the website for kickoff times. Take the Tren Ligero from metro Tasqueña to Estadio Azteca station.
Telephone Number: 5617-8080
Address: Calz de Tlalpan 3665, Tlalpan
The stadium is next door to the Plaza México bullring. Cruz Azul home games kick off at 5pm on Saturday.
Telephone Number: 5563-9040
Address: Indiana 260, Colonia Nápoles; [bus] Metrobus Ciudad de los Deportes
This is the home of the UNAM Pumas. Games start at noon on Sunday and are always well attended and entertaining; the exuberant university fan clubs are well known for their raucous chants.
Telephone Number: 5522-0491
Address: Insurgentes Sur 3000, Ciudad Universitaria
The most important bullring in the city is the aptly named Monumental Plaza, one of the world’s largest bullrings, where the main season runs from October or November to March.
If you’re not put off by its very concept, a corrida de toros (bullfight) is quite a spectacle, from the milling throngs and hawkers outside the arena to the pageantry and drama in the ring itself and the crowd response it provokes. Six bulls are usually fought in an afternoon, two each by three matadors.
From October or November to March or April, professional fights are held at the Monumental most Sundays, starting at 4pm. There are sometimes extra corridas – often with star Mexican and visiting Spanish matadors. The veteran Eloy Cavasos, from Monterrey, is often acclaimed as Mexico’s best matador. Ignacio Garibay, José Luis Angelino and José María Luevano are younger stars. From June to October, junior matadors fight young bulls. Some are as young as 10 (the age minimum in Spain is 16).
The youngest matador on record is Rafita Mirabal who, in 2005, at only eight years old was facing lethal young bulls in the ring. This fad for child toreros continues to be attacked by child protection groups, antibullfighting organizations and doctors. However the temptation is there, especially for poorer families seduced by the idea of obtaining fame and wealth, with little apparent thought of the inherent danger involved.
This most machismo of spectator sports is one of the world’s most controversial: to aficionados the pitting of man against bull is nothing less than an art form, while critics see it more as a one-sided ghoulish exhibition of torture and slaughter.
Although Spain is its true home, la corrida de toros is also quintessentially Mexican – it’s said that this is the only event locals ever arrive on time for (aside from weddings and funerals).
The corrida starts promptly generally in the afternoon on a Sunday. To the sound of, typically, a Spanish paso doble, the matador, in his twinkling traje de luces (suit of lights), and his toreros (assistants) give the traditional paseillo (salute) to the fight authorities and the crowd. Then the first of the day’s six bulls is released from its pen for the first of the three suertes (acts).The cape-waving toreros first attempt to wear out the bull by luring him around the ring. Next, two picadores, on heavily padded horses, enter and jab long lances into the bull’s shoulders to weaken him. This is a time you may want to look away, as it can be pretty gruesome.
Next, the band pipes up again, the picadores leave the ring, and the suerte de banderillas begins, as the toreros attempt to stab three pairs of elongated darts into the bull’s shoulders without getting impaled on his horns. After the band signals the end of this second suerte, the final suerte de muleta is the climax in which the matador has exactly 16 minutes to kill the bull. Starting with fancy cape work to tire the animal, the matador then exchanges his large cape for the smaller muleta and takes sword in hand, baiting the bull to charge before delivering the fatal lunge with his sword. If the matador succeeds, and he usually does – if not always on the first attempt – the bull collapses and an assistant dashes into the ring to sever its jugular. If the applause from the crowd warrants, he will also cut off an ear or two and sometimes the tail for the matador. The dead bull is dragged from the ring to be butchered for sale.
Monumental Plaza México
This deep concrete bowl can hold 48,000 spectators. The taquillas (ticket windows) by the bullring’s main entrance have printed lists of ticket prices. As a rule, the more expensive seats are in the sombra (shade), the cheaper are in the sol (sun). The cheapest seats of all are in the Sol General section – the top tiers of seating on the sunny side of the arena. Seats in the Sombra General – the top tiers on the shady side – cost slightly more. The best seats are in the Barreras, the seven rows nearest the arena.
Except for the biggest corridas, tickets are available right up to the time the third bull is killed, though the best seats may sell out early. You can buy advance tickets Thursdayto Saturday from 9:30am to 1pm and 3:30pm to 7pm, and Sunday from 9:30am onward. Most major hotels and many travel agencies sell tickets at a markup.
Telephone Number: 5563-3961
Address: Rodin 241, Colonia Nápoles
Transportation type: bus / Details: Ciudad de los Deportes
Mexico City has one team in the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol, the Diablos Rojos (www.diablos.com.mx), since their former second team, the Tigres, moved to nearby Puebla due to poor attendance. During the regular season (March to July), the Diablos play every other week with Sunday games played at noon. The playoffs take place in August. The league’s website is www.lmb.com.mx.
This stadium seats 26,000 spectators and is located to the east of the city. Games usually start at 6:30pm. Ticketmaster sells tickets and the Afición sports paper details upcoming games. From the Ciudad Deportiva station, on metro Línea 9, it’s a five-minute walk to the ballpark.
Telephone Number: 5639-8722
Pricing: tickets M$25-90
Address: cnr Av Río Churubusco & Viaducto Río de la Piedad
Much like their American counterpart charreadas (rodeos) are thrilling to watch and demonstrate superb ranching and equestrian skills. Check the website of the Asociación Nacional de la Charrería (www.nacionaldecharros.com in Spanish) for an up-to-date schedule. The main difference between a charreada and a US rodeo is that the Mexican riders compete in teams of up to eight people who ride in unison, as well as separately. Live mariachi music adds to the good-time atmosphere.
Rancho del Charro
This permanent covered arena is located between the Panteón Civil de Dolores and the 3ª Sección of the Bosque de Chapultepec. The main charreada season is from mid-May to early June.
Telephone Number: 5277-8706
Pricing: tickets M$25-90
Address: Av Constituyentes 500, Bosque de Chapultepec
Transportation type: metro / Details: Constituyentes
Lucha libre, the Mexican version of pro wrestling, serves up this antisocial behavior as popular entertainment. Laden with myth, charged with aggression and chock-full of hilarious theatrics, it can be an amusing spectacle. Mexico City’s two wrestling venues, the 17,000-seat Arena de México and the smaller Arena Coliseo are taken over by a circus atmosphere each week, with roving vendors selling beer, sandwiches and wrestlers’ masks.
There are three or four bouts, building up to the most formidable match-ups. Sporting day-glo tights, flaming masks and rippling biceps and taking names like Tarzan Boy, Violencia, Virus, Satánico and Super Crazy, the flamboyant luchadores play up their superhero and super villain personae. After being ushered in by bikini-clad babes, the stars go at each other in teams or one-on-one. Though more a display of acrobatics and theatrical histrionics than an actual competition, their antics can be pretty impressive and not without bodily risk. Wrestlers catapult off the rope and launch into somersaults en route to pouncing their opponent, and it’s not unusual to see a pair of combatants, locked in mortal embrace, go hurtling into the crowd.
The predominantly working-class fans are happy to suspend their disbelief and enter the fray, with grandma shaking her fist and shouting, ‘Kill him!’ Lucha libre (literally, ‘free fight’) means anything goes, and referees seem more like props than arbiters. The scenario invariably pits técnicos (‘craftsmen’) against rudos (‘rulebreakers’) in a mythic face-off between good and evil. The rudos usually wear black and engage in dirty tactics, not hesitating to grab a nearby piece of furniture to pummel an opponent. They usually get the upper hand early on, only to be pounded mercilessly by the técnicos in a stunning reversal toward the end of the match.
Mexico has produced many world boxing champs and a big fight here is a major event, widely televised. The venues are the same as those used for lucha Libre. For a schedule of matches, check the La Afición daily sports’ newspaper.