Monterrey, Mexico: Top attarctions

A good place to start off, during a visit to Monterrey, is the Macroplaza, or Gran Plaza, a city block wide area of interconnected squares with fountains, surrounded by parks. The Gran Plaza’s creation in the 1980s was a controversial project, since it involved demolishing a big chunk of the city center real-estate. Ultimately successful, it now stands the world’s largest public square. The park is surrounded by some of the most modern structures in the city, including Condominio Acero and the Faro del Comercio; a 70m tall red obelisk designed by Luis Barragan, the father of contemporary Mexican architecture.

North of the plaza is the well decorated Palacio de Gobiemo (the Government Palace), while to the south west is the Zona Rosa, filled with coffee shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants, as well as some of the best hotels in the city. At the southeastern end stands the Museum of Contemporary Art containing some lovely permanent and temporary art galleries. Across the road from the museum is Monterrey’s Cathedral, which has been rebuilt several times due to fires and floods. Behind the cathedral the streets are riddled with antique shops, bars and clubs, all housed in 19th century old buildings. These buildings are the last remnants of the colonial times in Monterrey.

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Museo de Historia Mexicana, located close to the northeastern tip of the Macroplaza, hosts three museums in one. This modernist museum presents an extensive chronological visual history of Mexico, with numerous artifacts, maps, religious icons and wears. In addition, it has a section of mounted animals and realistic looking plants.

El Obispado is an old summer residence of one of the last bishops from the viceroyalty period. Today it houses the Regional Museum of Nuevo Leon; however the building - with its sculptures and the Chapel ofthe Virginof Guadalupe – is a lot more impressive then the artifacts it houses.

An interesting and unique park in Monterrey is the Parque Fundidora. Formally a large steel-factory complex, the once blighted industrial zone has been remade into a huge urban park, retaining some of the old relics that give the park a surreal feel. Horno 3, which used to be a blast furnace, has been redesigned into an impressive, high-tech museum devoted to the country’s steel industry. In addition, the complex includes the three factories remade into an arts center that also screens international films and the Arena Monterrey for basketball and concerts.