Just 28 kilometers south of Mexico City, what was once a separate unincorporated city hearkening back to ancient Aztec times, is now the neighborhood which wraps around the southern shore of Lake Xochimilco and goes by its eponymous name – i.e., Xochimilco. Best known for its canals and for having its own identity separate from that of the rest of Mexico City, Xochimilco is a popular tourist haven and great escape for those wishing to see the pre-Hispanic Mexico.
Take a tour of Xochimilco and National University of Mexico
A UNESCO World-Heritage site, Xochimilco (“Place of Flowers”) was built upon the spongy and fertile land that is of the area. Rich with flora and fauna, much of the surrounding countryside is preserved, and, sadly, is the last of this type of habitat, as the conquistadores destroyed much of it and drained many of the canals.
Today Lake Xochimilco and the canal system have captured the hearts of anyone who happens to come by and take one of the gondola-like boats (called trajineras) or eat some of the local food. Taking one of the trajineras out for a float is an interesting and enlivening experience, as mariachi bands and food vendors float by offering their services. For a fee, many mariachi bands will attach their boat to yours and float along playing you music as you desire. Grab a good guide and he’ll explain the ancient Aztec ruins you’ll pass along the way.
Keep a lookout for the souvenir market along the wharf, and don’t miss the neighborhood’s Xochimilco Cathedral. It’s all here in this, the most authentic of Mexican tourist destinations.