The Zocalo is the main square located in the heart of Mexico City. Known simply as the “Arms Square” or Main Square,” today it goes by its more formal title Constitution Square or Plaza de la Constitucion. However, the name does not come from any of the Mexican constitutions that have governed the country but comes from the 1812 Cadiz Constitution, which was signed in Spain. These days, the park is almost always called Zocalo.
Plans had been made to erect a column as a monument to Independence, though only a base, or zocalo, was ever constructed. Long ago, the plinth was destroyed, but the name lingers on. Other Mexican towns and cities have also adopted the name zocalo to refer to their main plazas.
Since the Aztec times, the Zocalo has been a gathering for the Mexicans, having been the site of for royal proclamations, Independence ceremonies, Mexican ceremonies, the swearing in of viceroys, and many modern religious events. The Zocalo also holds many yearly festivals including Holy Week and Corpus Christi, while also receiving heads of state and a venue for national protest and national celebrations. The Zocalo Park has been a part of Mexico City’s geography and city planning for more than 700 years. The Zocalo is just one block away from the Templo Mayor, which according to Aztec legend and mythology, was considered the center of the universe.
The park is considered the beating heart of Mexico’s capital; it also served as the main center of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. Located just a few meters from the park are several majestic colonial buildings and pre-Hispanic ruins. Surrounding the park is a large cross section of Mexico City peoples and businesses, including: workers, bankers, business executives, street vendors, fashionistas, buskers, and dancers.
The Zocalo takes up a whole city block and is considered one of the largest squares in the world where people gather for cultural and civic celebrations and events. Over the many years the Zocalo has undergone numerous renovations and incarnations. Many of these different phases can be seen in scale models found in the Zocalo metro station.