Monument to Workers (Monumento a los Obreros) in Macroplaza square in the historic city center of Monterrey.

© eskystudio/Shutterstock



A monument to Monterrey’s late-20th-century ambition, this city-block-wide series of interconnected squares, also known as the Gran Plaza, was created in the 1980s by the demolition of a prime chunk of city-center real estate. A controversial but ultimately successful piece of redevelopment, its charm has increased over the years as the once-naked urban space – said to form the largest public square in the world – has been softened by parks, trees and fountains.

Vistas of the surrounding mountains open up between the roster of iconic edifices – classically designed municipal buildings and incongruously modern structures housing some of Mexico's finest museums – that line the Macroplaza. For visitors, it's a delight to explore on foot, as most traffic is directed away from the area by underpasses.

At the southern end of the Macroplaza, the 70m concrete tower Faro del Comercio soars above the city, its green lasers piercing the night sky. The Faro abuts the baroque form of the Catedral Metropolitano de Monterrey, capped by a neon cross. North of here is a shady park, Plaza Zaragoza, popular with snacking families and smooching couples, and also the venue for open-air concerts and old-school Latin dancing every Sunday.

Continuing north, the rest of the Macroplaza is lined with a succession of concrete municipal structures. If you're a fan of brutalism, you'll love the Teatro de la Ciudad and its architectural cousin, the lofty Congreso del Estado. Then down some steps is the Explanada de los Héroes lined with statues, and finally the 1908 neoclassical Palacio de Gobierno.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Monterrey attractions

1. Parque Hundido

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Public square, forum for art, garden and green spaces all fuse to form Monterrey's unique Parque Hundido.

2. Biblioteca Central

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Monterrey's modernist central library is an architectural landmark along the Macroplaza, bringing to mind a reimagined Roman stadium. It hosts lectures…

3. Plaza Zaragoza

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A shady park, Plaza Zaragoza hosts many concerts and special events. The centerpiece of the plaza – and the larger Macroplaza – is a 70m-tall, red…

4. Explanada de los Héroes

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Explanada de los Héroes has statues of Mexican national heroes in each corner. It's the most formal and traditional of the spaces in the Macroplaza and…

5. Faro del Comercio

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At the southern end of the Macroplaza, the red 70m concrete tower Faro del Comercio (Lighthouse of Commerce) soars above the city, its green lasers…

6. Museo del Noreste

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Technically this is a separate institution from the Museo de Historia Mexicana, but, practically speaking, it's galleries on the culture and history of…

7. Museo Metropolitano de Monterrey

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A small museum inside Monterrey's original city hall, the Museo Metropolitano showcases the history of the city, from it's founding in 1596 to the present…

8. Plaza 400 Años

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This plaza, graced with fountains and pools, forms an impressive approach to the sleek, modernist Museo de Historia Mexicana and the Museo del Noreste. It…