Lonely Planet review for Alameda Central
Created in the late 1500s by mandate of then-viceroy Luis de Velasco, the Alameda took its name from the ''álamos'' (poplars) planted over its rectangular expanse. By the late 19th century, the park was lit by gas lamps and graced with European-style statuary and a bandstand – it became the place to be seen for the city’s elite. Today the Alameda is a popular refuge, particularly on Sundays, when families stroll its broad pathways and gather for open-air concerts.
On the south side of the Alameda, facing Av Juárez, is the Hemiciclo a Juárez, a gleaming white semicircle of marble columns around a regally seated statue of Benito Juárez (1806–72). Born a poor Zapotec villager in the state of Oaxaca, Juárez – one of Mexico’s most respected heroes – rose to become national president and conquer the armies of Maximilian of Hapsburg.