Top things to see and do when teaching English in Mexico City
A whole load of TEFL jobs in Mexico are in the beating capital of the country. If you’re lucky enough to have bagged yourself a position teaching English in Mexico City, then this list of enticing attractions is a must read. It’s got everything from ancient Aztec pyramids to elegant colonial palaces, ensuring you get the right cultural introduction to the metropolis when you arrive.
Enjoy the atmosphere of the Zócalo
One place that everybody heading for teaching English in Mexico City should know about is the sprawling Zócalo square at the heart of this buzzing metropolis. It’s one of the largest urban plazas on the planet and has a history that reaches all the way back to the centuries when the Aztecs ruled this corner of Mesoamerica. These days, it’s hailed as Plaza de la Constitución for its role in the foundation of the Mexican state. On one end, the great Metropolitan Cathedral reveals its stunning Baroque and Neo-Renaissance exterior, while the exhibition rooms of Templo Mayor (more on those later) beckon just to the north.
The National Museum of Anthropology
If you only have time to fit in one museum during that weekend away from the classroom while teaching English in Mexico City, make it the acclaimed National Museum of Anthropology. This is hailed as the single most immersive and encompassing collection of historical and heritage artifacts in the country. It’s brimming with relics that will make you gasp, whether that’s a carved effigy of the revered Aztec serpent-god Xiuhcoatl or a resplendent replication of the feather headdress worn by Moctezuma II.
The Templo Mayor Museum
If you’re keen to delve into the rich Aztec history of Mexico City, the rises of Templo Mayor are an excellent place to begin. Joined at the hip to energetic Zócalo square, the ruins here herald one of the most important worshipping centers in ancient Tenochtitlan – the former capital that sits below the heart of the modern metropolis. An on-site museum now helps to make sense of the mysterious pantheon of gods, the tradition of human sacrifice and the great deity Tlaloc – considered one of the most venerable in all of American hertiage.
The Palace of Fine Arts
A veritable icon of the capital, the Palace of Fine Arts stands tall over the leafy plazas along Avenue Juarez. Topped with grand Art Deco domes and filigreed with heroic metalwork, it’s considered one of the greatest achievements of Mexican architecture in the modern age. Inside, a medley of murals reveals the story of the birth of Mexican nationalism and the evolution of politics in the country.
The National Palace
No trip to the heart of Mexico City’s historic center could possibly be complete without at least a selfie or two outside of the National Palace. This was once the abode of the powerful Spanish governors, imbued with opulent state rooms and elegant exterior stonework to match. These days, the building is the official residence of Mexico’s president and the hallowed home of the so-called Freedom Bell, which echoed through the streets in 1810 to herald the start of the independence wars.
Any TEFL-ers keen to escape the hustle and bustle of the big metropolis while teaching English in Mexico City could whisk themselves away to Puebla. It’s some two hours away from the capital, nestled between snow-mantled volcanos in the shadow of the smoking summits of the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park. However, the hulking mountains are just one of the draws, because Puebla is also renowned for its handsome colonial-era architecture, its maze-like old town of Baroque treasures, and – perhaps most enticingly – as Mexico’s culinary hotspot. So, don’t leave without tasting the fine-cooked tacos and zingy chalupas!
There’s really no description that could do justice to the sheer awesomeness of Teotihuacan. This pre-Columbian site just north-east of the capital is home to some of the best-preserved pyramid structures in the whole of the Americas. The mighty buildings line the so-called Avenue of the Dead, which cuts through the heart of the UNESCO site, past the colossal Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun and the mysterious Temple of the Feathered Serpent. As you clamber up those and wander between the ruins, you can unravel tales of human sacrifice and mystical Aztec rituals.
Of course, there is oodles, oodles more to do in this buzzing capital. If you’re a veteran of teaching English in Mexico City, then we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below. Alternatively, if you think it is time you got TEFL qualified and exploring Mesoamerica, be sure to check out our courses page.