Mexico City is immense. In 2009, the estimated population of the city proper was close to 9 million people, with a land area of about 573 sq. mi. The greater Mexico City population numbers to a soaring 21.2 million people, making the city the largest metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world. When you’re walking around the city, it’s hard to gain a sense of just how vast the city is — a part from taking note of how long it can take you to get from one place to another. That said, I’ve discovered a few great spots to take in the sprawling glory of the thriving megalopolis.
1) Torre Latinoamericana
Probably Mexico City’s most historic skyscraper, the Torre Latinoamericana was built in 1956 and was, for its time, Mexico City’s tallest building. It would later be surpassed in 1972 by the Hotel de México, now Mexico City’s World Trade Center (which I will get to in a minute.) Internationally, it is recognized as an engineering and architectural landmark because it was the world’s first skyscraper built on actively seismic land. The Torre is located close to the Zócalo on Calle Madero (partially on top of the first Franciscan mission built on Mexican soil c. 1525), and you can get there by taking the blue line to Bellas Artes. There is an admission fee to access the mirador, but you can also take the elevator up to the bar for free to scope out the view.
2) Monumento a la Revolución
Located just two metro stops away from the Torre Latinoamericana on the blue line (Revolución), the Monumento a la Revolución is a landmark and triumphal arch that commemorates the Mexican Revolution and serves as a mausoleum to its heroes, including Pancho Villa, Francisco Madero, and Lazaro Cardenas, among others. The Monumento stands in the middle of a larger plaza that, on a daily basis, is most frequently and dichotomously used as a backdrop for quinceñeara photo shoots and a free speech zone, most notably in recent months, for teachers and activists protesting the disappearance of 43 students from the rural town of Ayotzinapa.
The Monumento is not quite as tall as the Torre Latinoamericana, but the architecture (& informational placards) afford you the chance to learn about the Social Realism artistic style that expressed the revolutionary sentiments of the time. Getting to the top is a little easier and quicker than the Torre as well, and there are a number of cute cafés and restaurants around the plaza. Of note at the Monumento is its hip and updated gift shop, a bit more refreshing take on Mexico City souvenirs than what you’ll find at the Torre.
3) Bellini Restaurante Giratorio at the World Trade Center (Torre WTC, Montecito 38, Benito Juarez, World Trade Center Mexico City, Nápoles, 03810 Ciudad de México, D.F.) http://www.bellini.com.mx/
Now, the best view I’ve had of Mexico City is hands-down at the Bellini Restaurante Giratorio located on the 45th floor of the World Trade Center on Insurgentes Sur. Bellini is the world’s largest revolving restaurant – even winning a Guinness World Record for this title. Because the restaurant rotates throughout your meal, you can have a 360 degree view of all of Mexico City in 1 hour and 45 min. I would recommend that you make a reservation in the late afternoon so you have a chance to see the city in both day and night. (An excellent decision made by Ximena’s mom the first time I dined there!) The restaurant rotates slowly enough that you don’t necessarily feel it, so no need to feel anxious about potential motion-sickness or vertigo. One of the coolest moments of our dining experience was when we rotated past the Estadio Azteca and realized we could watch en vivo the very same soccer game that was displayed across all of the restaurant’s flat screens! The service is impeccable, and I’d say the restaurant is both couples- and family-friendly alike. It’s a classy experience without taking itself too seriously, and apparently there’s a bar a level up where you can dance the night away!
So, where’s your favorite place to take in a sweeping view of D.F.?