Bosque de Chapultepec is twice the size of New York's Central Park.
It ranks among the world's largest metropolises, a seemingly infinite cityscape where 20 million people buzz about skyscrapers, souvenir shops, mercados, and Michelin-starred restaurants. But behind a fence in the heart of town, Mexico City catches its breath at Bosque de Chapultepec, a 1,695-acre park (twice the size of New York's Central Park) and the country's centuries-old playground.
Long considered sacred by inhabitants such as the Toltecs, Acolhua, and Aztecs—who erected altars, palaces, and temples here—the park has such a rich pre-Columbian history that archaeologists are still excavating parts of it. Glimpse that history at the Moctezuma Baths, a set of stone pools where the 15th-century emperor once entertained. To dive deeper into the past, head north to the National Museum of Anthropology. One of the park's nine museums, it is home to intricate Maya murals and 50-ton Olmec stone heads.
History lives outside, too: Ahuehuete trees planted by the Aztecs still shade the trails, which wend their way through the woods to the botanical gardens, amusement park, and zoo. Trek uphill to the 18th-century Castillo de Chapultepec, a palace with marble staircases and arched entryways, to snag a sweeping view of the park and the surrounding city in all its glory.
This article was first published in Summer 2018. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.