In September’s quake, the cathedral escaped major damage, but authorities said a statue of Hope (the theological virtue) was toppled from its spot on the clock tower. Though Hope-less for the foreseeable future, the cathedral remains open daily, as do the neighboring zocalo (a.k.a. Plaza de la Constitucion) and Templo Mayor ruins.
The star of the city’s Parque Alameda Central, three-quarters of a mile west of the zocalo, is the Palacio de Bellas Artes, an Art Nouveau building (with Tiffany glass crown) designed by Italian architect Adamo Boari.
The Palacio, a city symbol and venue for performing arts since 1934, reopened within two weeks of the September quake. For a bird’s-eye view, head to the eighth-floor terrace snack bar of the Sears store across the street.
Xochimilco’s canals are about 15 miles south of the zocalo — typically an hour’s drive. But the canal system’s Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas area, which bore no signs of quake damage, was well worth my trouble.
Rent a brightly painted boat (and pilot) for about $28 an hour. Buy snacks; listen to musicians. The canals, which date to pre-Hispanic times, go on for miles, and they’re threatened by pollution and dwindling water supply. But I saw more smiles there than any place else in the city.
Among other attractions operating as usual: the Palacio Nacional and Ministry of Education buildings, which include some of Diego Rivera’s best-known murals; the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan; the Museo Soumaya (with art from Europe, Asia and the Americas); Museo Jumex (contemporary art); the Casa de Azulejos (a 16th century building with tiles outside and a Sanborn’s restaurant inside); Chapultepec Park (which includes the National Museum of Anthropology); Plaza Garibaldi, where mariachi groups gather; and the 45-story Torre Latinoamerica’s restaurant and observation deck.