Mexico City - Holidays, Flights and Hotels
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Spanish: Ciudad de México, México D.F. or simply México, pronounced IPA: ['mexiko]) is the capital city of the nation of Mexico. The "Distrito Federal" is also commonly referred to as the "D.F." It is one of the largest cities in the world and is classed as a megalopolis as it encompasses one large city that has slowly engulfed other, smaller ones. It is located in the Valley of Mexico (Valle de México), a large valley in the high plateaus (altiplano) at the center of Mexico, about 2,240 meters (7,349 feet) above sea-level, surrounded on most sides by volcanoes towering at 4,000 to 5,500 meters (13,000 to 18,000 feet) above sea-level.
Mexico City, as a municipality, was established in 1521 by Cortés in the middle of the now drained Lake Texcoco on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, and of its lesser-known twin city Tlatelolco. The municipality was abolished in 1928, and the name "Mexico City" can now refer to two things.
Officially, the name Ciudad de México is used by the Distrito Federal (D.F.). The D.F. is a federal district serving as the capital of Mexico and which is administered by the Mexican Federal Government. The D.F. encompasses the historical center of Mexico City, but is much larger than the historical municipality of Mexico City abolished in 1928. The urbanized area of Mexico City covers only the north of the D.F., while the south of the D.F. is made up of rural areas and mountains. Although the D.F. is not a municipality, the name Ciudad de México is used by Mexican authorities as a synonym for Distrito Federal.
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Mexico City, sometimes considered the world's largest and most populated city, forms a rough oval of about 60 by 40 kilometers, on the dry bed of lake Texcoco, surrounded on three sides by tall mountains and volcanoes such as the Ajusco, the Popocatepetl and the Ixtlacihuatl. It's a massive urban sprawl, stretching from Mexico State in the north, through the Federal District (Distrito Federal), and into the state of Morelos in the south. Estimates place the population of the full metropolitan area at somewhere between 25 and 30 million people.
The Distrito Federal part of the city, which is where most tourists will spend the majority of their time, is divided up into 16 delegations, similar to the boroughs of New York, which in turn are divided into "colonies" (colonias), of which there are about 250. Knowing what colony you're going to is essential to getting around, almost all locals will know where a given colony is (however, beware that there are some colonies with duplicate or very similar names). As with many very large cities, the structure is relatively decentralized, with several parts of the city having their own miniature "downtown areas". However, the real downtown areas are Centro, the old city center, and Zona Rosa, the new business and entertainment district.
The city is located 2200 meters above the sea level. Some people not used to high places have experienced difficulty when breathing, however these symptoms fade a few minutes after arrival.
Mexico City's night life is like all other aspects of the city; it's huge. There is an enormous selection of venues: clubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, and variations and combinations thereof to choose from. There is incredible variation, from ultramodern lounges in Santa Fe and Reforma, to decades-old dance halls in Centro and Roma. There are also pubs in Tlalpan and Coyoacán and clubs of every stripe in Insurgentes, Polanco, and the Zona Rosa.
Also, when going out, check the date, since this is an important indicator of how full places will generally be, and how long you might have to wait to get in. Salaries are usually paid twice per month, the 30th/31st-1st, and the 14th-15th. On or right after these dates is when most Mexicans will go out, especially if pay day coincides with a weekend. In the more expensive places, people might leave for Acapulco or vacations farther afield during the summer and long weekends. Mexican weekends, in the sense of when it's common to go out drinking, are Thursday night to Sunday morning, and sometimes throughout Sunday.