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The changing image of Mexico City is increasing its appeal as a tourist destination.
A serious cash injection and stronger policing are beginning to dispel the vision of a capital plagued by out-of control crime and pollution. Several once dangerous side streets in the ‘Centro Histórico’ are fast becoming pleasant places to enjoy a drink and a snack and are home to trendy tapas bars such as Hostería La Bota on San Jerónimo. Even Plaza Garibaldi, the Centro's seedy square, has been spruced-up and boasts a new tequila and mescal museum, reports BBC Travel.
The Plaza de la República and its imposing Art Deco ‘Monumento a la Revolución’, have also had a facelift and the monument now boasts a glass elevator to a lookout point with a panoramic view of the city, and the Museo Nacional de la Revolución has also been remodelled.
With pre-Hispanic ruins of Templo Mayor, believed by the Aztecs to be the centre of the universe, and the nearby Palacio Nacional, with appealing Diego Rivera murals to the north and the bustling Mercado de Xochimilco to the south, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Xochimilco is what remains of a vast network of pre-Hispanic canals that extended across the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán, present-day Mexico City.
You can also visit the capital's largest park, the Bosque de Chapultepec, home to the impressive National Anthropology Museum and the Modern Art Museum, which contains works by renowned 20th-century Mexican artists such as Frida Kahlo. The park has recently been connected to the city centre by bike lanes on the broad tree-lined Avenida Paseo de la Reforma, which is closed to car traffic on Sundays. This is part of a plan, along with the Metrobús, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and make the capital less polluted.
So don’t just think ‘beach’ when you think of Mexico. Its capital is fast becoming a heady mix of pre-Hispanic, colonial and contemporary cultural attractions, and is a lot safer than in the past.