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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

The Zocalo

Mexico City, Mexico

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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Being in Mexico City, one really must take a trip to the Zocalo (pronounced: SO-cah-loh). It's the main square in central Mexico City, and one of the largest squares in the world.

Since the day was glorious, we walked there from Plaza Santo Domingo.

West side of the Zocalo. Merchant Portal

We are approaching the historic center of Mexico City, and this west side of the plaza has been occupied by merchants and their shops since the Spanish Conquest of Mexico in 1521.

Today, there are offices on the upper floors, and shops at ground level. But most of the upper floors of the buildings here are taken up by suites and rooms associated with the Gran Hotel de Ciudad de Mexico and the Hotel Majestic.

Interestingly, the Hotel Majestic was recently purchased by Best Western, and the Gran Hotel de la Ciudad de Mexico is now run by Howard Johnson. People still call these buildings by their original names, as it sounds so much more gentrified.

Display of Mexican patriotism

This area of the Zocalo, is equal to our own Washington, D.C. and houses the government that runs the country of Mexico. Mexico City is the Federal District of Mexico City or D.F. for short (pronounced: DAY EFF-ay.

 

Here you see some happy patriots waving the Mexican flag!

Moving closer to the square

The streets and sidewalks are both clean and wide. It was not always so. Over the years, Mexico City has been prone to flooding, and in the "olden days" before closed sewers and better sanitation, these streets would become unbearable.

I won't go into description, but you can imagine for yourself what that might mean, especially since horses were a means of transportation at the time.

Lovely.

But these days, the streets are something to be proud of.

The red rock used in constructing these buildings is called tezontle and the white stone is a cantera. The whole Mexico City Zocalo is a mix of these stones.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven

This is the largest cathedral in the Americas, and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. It just happens to be situated on top of a former sacred Aztec area.

The two bell towers you see here contain a total of 25 bells, each one weighing tens of thousands of pounds. There are sixteen chapels inside the cathedral.

Much of Mexico City is built upon soft clay soil. That, combined with dropping water tables, accelerated the cathedral sinking and threatened its structural integrity. Reconstruction work in the 1990s saved the cathedral and now it has been removed from the endangered list.

Two separate entrances are shown here

We went in and out of the cathedral through several doorways that were open. Each led us to a different chapel.

Notice the cantera stone on the front of the church.

The Tabernacle

This very ornate entranceway is to the Tabernacle.

This cathedral faces south towards the Zocalo.

Another angle

Here you  see a better angle of the Tabernacle, a few doorways and the bell towers.

You will also notice that deep red volcanic stone, tezontle, that is utilized all throughout the plaza.

Inside the cathedral

With its graceful lines, the soft colors of rock, paint and gold leaf, the inside of the cathedral is very beautiful.

Altar of Forgiveness

Covered in gold leaf, this is the Altar of Forgiveness. Several stories describe how the name of this altar came about. One of them states that those condemned by the Spanish Inquisition were brought to the altar to ask for forgiveness in the next world before their execution.

Oh dear.

National Palace on left, the Federal District buildings on right, vendor stalls in the center

The site where the palace stands has been a place for the ruling class of Mexico since the Aztec Empire. Much of the current palace's building materials are from the original palace that belonged to Moctezuma II. It is now also home to some of the offices of the Federal Treasury and the National Archives.

 

Above the central doorway, facing the Zócalo, is the main balcony. Just before midnight on the eve of Mexican Independence Day, the president of Mexico gives the Grito de Dolores. Part of this ceremony includes ringing the bell that hangs above the balcony. This bell is the original one that Father Miguel Hidalgo rang to call for rebellion against Spain. It originally hung in the church of Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, but was relocated here.

On the right are The Federal District buildings. They house offices of the governing authority of Mexico City. The building to the far right has been the site of city administration since the Conquest.

A panoramic shot of the cathedral, palace, plaza and government buildings.

The ancient Aztecs, called Mexihcah (pronounced: Meh-shee-KAH) lived here and founded their cities on raised islets in the Lake Texcoco (which used to surround Mexico City) around AD 1300.

The Zocalo and surrounding blocks have played a central role in the city's planning and geography for almost 700 years. The area one block southwest of here, according to Aztec legend and mythology, was considered to be the center of the Universe.

Many other Mexican towns and cities, such as Oaxaca and Guadalajara, have adopted the word zócalo to refer to their main plazas, but none are this big. This Zocalo has been a gathering place for Mexicans since Aztec times, having been the site of Mexica ceremonies, royal proclamations, military parades, and modern religious events.

For more photos and stories of Mexico, click here

About the Authors

 
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.


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