Situated in the heart of the city you will find Mexico City Cathedral. Officially it is known as Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María or Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary. It is located on the north side of the Plaza de La Constitución, more commonly known as Zócalo.
Construction started in 1573 and remained a work in progress throughout the colonial period, adopting different styles of architecture along the way. The exterior was completed in 1813 by architect Manual Tolsá added the clock tower.
The cathedral was purposely built on top of an Aztec temple and, owing to this, it is now sinking. You can see the how unleved the floor is if you look closely at the image below.
The Cathedral is free to enter and is often done so by the locals paying homage. There is an incredibly sacred feel to the site as even outside passersby will make the Sign of the Cross. In fact, my Mexican friend tells me stories that people from the surrounding mountains will make pilgrimages to cathedral by foot or will sometimes crawl the entire journey on their knees.
On entering the cathedral through magnificently carved doors, the first thing that catches the eye is the Altar de Pérdon (Altar of Pardon). An area for pray is provided in front of this gilded altar and the atmosphere inside the Cathedral is very calm as most who enter are respectful worshipers.
You will often catch a service as well, with priest’s words softly echoing of the stone walls. Service will of course be in Spanish, but this is also a great opportunity and setting to practice your listening skills.
The general feel to Mexico City Cathedral is welcoming and you are free to take photos as long as you do not use a flash. Despite the chapel being guarded by police outside, there is no feeling of over-bearing security. It really is wonderful place and one of the cities great attractions.
THINGS TO NOTE
For M$10, enter the sacristy with authorized guides providing commentary.
For M$12, climb the bell tower.
Sundays 12pm, mass is given by the Arch Bishop of Mexico.
Other attractions not far from Mexico City Cathedral include the Museo Nacional de Arte, the Templo Mayor and the Palacio Nacional.