Ciudad Universitaria is the name for the main UNAM
campus. It's a big complex of buildings for colleges, research institutes, museums, etc... A small city in its own behalf, it's located at the south of Mexico City.
It was created in the early 50s, and it's a proof of the centralistic view of those Mexicans, they put everything inside their newest shiny big all-encompassing project, without thinking of any of the possible scalability problems.
The "Autonomous" part of the UNAM's name, refers to its ability and right to govern itself, with out any intromission of the Mexican state. And this includes some kind of territorial sovereign. CU has its own police, and it's off limits to Mexico City's police force(tm). Gosh!, CU even has its own fire fighters.
CU has to receive each day in excess of 400,000 students, teachers, researchers and workers. And tries with some futility to fulfill all their needs.
One of the CU's biggest problems, began at the late 70s, when more and more Mexicans wished to have a college degree. Most of them wanted to study inside one of the CU's schools, despite the fact that UNAM has 5 other campus in the city offering the same
When you have 90% of your demand wanting to come to CU, and more that 50% of your offers outside in the other campuses, you are in deep shit when trying to assign them a particular campus (I know this first hand, I worked for years at the UNAM's office which does that). You end up sending more than 40% of them to places they
don't want to study in, and spending half of the first semester denying relocation requests. In fact, students assigned to CU are being offered money by the ones who didn't to swap places, despite the fact that this is not allowed by UNAM's laws (swapping places, I
And it's easy to understand why the less lucky make all those efforts to come to CU. It's wonderful to study or work in CU, you have everything you need inside the campus; libraries, gyms, medical services, book stores, supermarkets, food services,
botanical gardens, a beautiful concert hall, movie theaters, museums, etc...
One thing that CU doesn't have are student dorms, Mexican universities don't have them, they are built to serve the local community. Overseas students are expected to fulfill their living accommodations needs entirely on their own.
Once you are in Mexico City, it's easy to get to CU. Take the subway and get to either Copilco or Universidad stations. The better one is
Copilco, get outside the station by the south exit, and follow the ants trail (the bunch of students going to their classes) you can't get lost. At Universidad station look at the west, what you see is CU.
Some places you won't want to miss are (I'll node all these, promise!) La Biblioteca Central (the central library) and its murals (even the one behind), la Torre de Rectoría (the Rectory tower) and its murals, El Estadio Olímpico (the Olympic Stadium), the Philosophy School and its not very inconspicuous atmosphere, the MUCA (Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Artes, Science and Arts museum), Las islas (the islands), the Engineering School, the
Medicine School and its mural, the Chemistry School, don't miss the Science School!.
Use CU's free public transportation (be patient, you get what you paid for) to get to these places; University Cultural Center and it's great Nezahualcoyotl concert hall, the National Library. While in the Cultural Center follow the northward path to the Espacio Escultorico (Sculpture Space), while walking the path
look at the west, those funny little blue painted buildings are nicknamed "los pitufos" (the smurfs) and house some social and humanistic research institutes. Hope you are not tired yet 'cause you will have to get back to the south, west of the Cultural Center, to find la Casa de las Ciencias (the Science House), go to the Universum museum (here don't miss a *complete* aerial photographic map of Mexico City, it's simply gorgeous).