As you see yourself, I once saw myself; as you see me now, you will be seen.
      Mexican Proverb


México is the most populous Spanish-
speaking country in the world. According to the latest statistics, México's total population is over 99 million. Mestizos, of Indian and Spanish blood), make up 60% of the population, followed by indigenous peoples  (30%), whites (9%), and other ethnic minorities  (1%).

Carnaval in Mazatlan

Visitors and locals scream, sing, shout and dance amid confetti and ribbons. Bands of all kinds play the infectious rhythms of the State of Sinaloa. And the food–oh, the food–camarones (shrimp) prepared in every way possible, washed down with ice cold Pacifico beer, for it’s Carnaval Time, Mazatlán’s biggest pachanga (fiesta). 
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March 12, 2006

by Bob Brooke

Vying with Tokyo as the largest city in the world, Mexico City offers a myriad of cultural opportunities. But none shows off the city more than the Historic Center Festival held each year in April–this year from April 8-27.

Famed tenor and Mexico native Placido Domingo heads up an all-star line-up of performances. He’ll help celebrate the renovation of the city’s Teatro de la Ciudad (City Theater) with an inaugural performance.

The Festival features visual arts performances, art exhibits, fine food and other events held in several venues throughout this historic center including the Teatro de la Ciudad, Palace of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Palacio Postal.

Performances by topnotch troupes like the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, the Russian Chamber Orchestra, among others as well as stagings of plays like Macbeth and Carmen are typical. There are also children's activities including storytelling, museum tours, arts and crafts activities and games. Food also plays an important part, including a celebration of chiles rellenos, a hunter's feast and several other themed dinners honoring some of Mexico City's distinguished chefs.

"Mexico City's Historic Center is known as the most important in the Americas," said Dr. Julieta Campos, Secretary of Tourism of Mexico City and President of the Mexico City Tourism Authority. "In this one location, visitors can experience Mexico's history and culture going back to the time of the Aztecs."

Origins of the Festival
The Historic Center, or Centro Historico, began as the hub of the Aztec Empire in its capital, Tenochtitlán and continues to be the, center of the city's cultural focus to this day. The focus of the Centro Historico is Mexico City’s main square, the "Plaza de la Constitucion" or, as it’s popularly known, " the Zocalo." Covering nearly 670 blocks, the Centro Historico houses over 400 important cultural sites and monuments in a 10-square-kilometer area. After the Revolution of 1910, the historic area began to fall into serious decay through carelessness and abandonment. By 1960, Mexico City’s once-proud center had fallen on hard times. It was during this time that an interest arose to recover and preserve the artistic and historic heritage of the area.

"The revitalization of the Centro Historico is a vital part of a city-wide program to preserve our cultural and historic heritage, to re-establish the heart of our great city, and to encourage a residents to move back to downtown," said Dr. Campos.

The Festival of the Historical Center of the City of Mexico was born in 1985, as a non-profit enterprise to help the rescue of the Centro Historico. During the past 18 years, it has contributed to the cultural environment of the area by presenting national and international artists of high quality in its beautiful patios, government buildings, palaces, cloisters and churches, with the support of the Government of the Federal District and the National Council for the Culture and the Arts.

In 1988, the Festival Organizing Committee created the Medal of Merit to recognize those people whose actions have contributed in an exceptional way to the rescue and dignification of the artistic heritage of the Centro Historico.

Proceeds from Festival events support a variety of children's causes, including UNICEF and a special organization created specifically to help homeless and underprivileged children living in and around the city's center. Supported by private benefactors, the government of Mexico City and the National Council of Arts and Culture, the Historic Center Festival has grown each year to become one of the most celebrated cultural events in North America. The Festival is an opportunity to celebrate Mexico City's proud history and culture.

Ticket prices for individual events range from US$35 to US$150. Series tickets for events, that include concerts, dinners and cocktail parties, are available from the offices of the Festival del Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de México, Benjamín Franklin 176, México, D.F. 11800; Tel 011-52-555-277-9697, 277-9817 or 272-2865; Fax 011-52-555-272-2936; through TicketMaster in Mexico at 011-52-555-325-9000; or at theater box offices two hours prior to the performance. For further information, visit the festival's website at or the Mexico City Web site at


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