Chapultepec has the rather dubious distinction of being the only castle within North America to ever house actual sovereigns. It was originally constructed in 1725 on the orders of the Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez, and was meant to be a large manor house for the Viceroy, who was the commander-in-chief of the Spanish colony, New Spain.
Currently the castle is the seat of National Museum of Cultures, which was formerly known as the Museum of Natural History. It was established as such by Lázaro Cárdenas in 1939. In this capacity it is open to visitors who can come and tour both the castle itself and the various collections it now houses. Through the past decades it has become a favorite location of movie directors appearing in both Robert Aldrich’s Vera Cruz and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet.
The current headquarters of the National Museum of Anthropology was inaugurated on September 17, 1964, and for more than five decades, it has fulfilled the mission of investigating, conserving, exhibiting and disseminating the most important archaeological and ethnographic collections in the country.
From its conception, this icon of urban architecture of the twentieth century was designed to be, more than a repository, a space for reflection on the rich indigenous heritage of our multicultural nation. Its 22 rooms and its more than 45 thousand square meters of construction make it the largest museum in Mexico and one of the most prominent in the world.
In this important enclosure the archaeological and anthropological testimonies forged by multiple cultural groups are housed over hundreds of years of history; At the same time, it pays tribute to the indigenous peoples of Mexico today through a large collection that rescues the uses, representations, expressions, knowledge and traditions that are the nation's intangible heritage and legacy that belongs to all humanity.
The Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City is one the grandest sites among its many attractions. The Palacio de Bellas Artes (Bellas Artes Palace) is located close to the Zocalo and neighbours the Alameda Central Park. This attraction should be on the must-visit list for tourists in Mexico City.
The Palace serves as the main venue for the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. It also hosts exhibitions and theatrical performances. The Palace also provides encouragement to visual arts, music, literature, architecture and dance. It houses two museums within its building. The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes (Bellas Artes Palace Museum) features temporary exhibits while the Museo Nacional de Arquitectura (National Architecture Museum) occupies a permanent place at the top floor of the building.
The first and second-floor of the building feature epic murals done by some of Mexico's greatest artists such as Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco. The star highlight of the Palace is the glass curtain in the main theatre. This striking stage glass curtain is a stained-glass foldable panel that features the landscape of the Valley of Mexico with its two great volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztacchihuatl.
Mexico City’s mammoth cathedral was built across three centuries (1573–1813)—starting soon after Cortés and his allies vanquished the Aztec Empire—using stones taken from a destroyed indigenous temple. Today’s sanctuary serves up contrasts between unadorned neoclassical walls alongside exuberant gilt chapels and altarpieces as well as a massive pipe organ, with some baroque elements, that’s still dusted off and played from time to time. Be sure not to miss the high altar, and consider shelling out for a visit to the sacristy, with its glistening dome, grand canvases, and massive cabinets, fit to hold an archbishop’s entire stock of holy utensils. And for a queasy view of how much the ground beneath the city is sinking, note how chandeliers appear to list in comparison to the chapel’s vertical lines.
Frida Kahlo's family home, the Casa Azúl, or "Blue House" is where the Mexican artist lived most of her life. Visitors to Mexico City who are interested in her life and work should not miss a visit to this museum, which is not only a testament to her life but also a fine example of early 20th Century Mexican architecture. Those hoping to see her art should plan to visit the Dolores Olmedo Museum and the Modern Art Museum in Chapultepec Park because there is not much of Frida's or Diego Rivera's art exhibited here.
Each object in the home tells a story: the crutches, wheelchair, and corset speak of Frida's medical troubles and physical suffering. The Mexican folk art shows Frida's keen artist's eye, how devoted she was to her country and traditions, and how she loved to surround herself with beautiful things. The couple enjoyed entertaining and their colorful kitchen with clay pots hanging on the walls and on the tiled stove would have been an ideal space for social gatherings. Some of the highlights of the museum include the kitchen, Frida's easel and wheelchair, and the garden with a central pyramid, terracotta pots and a few pieces from Diego's collection of Prehispanic art
Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park is the oldest and largest urban park in Latin America, and one of the oldest urban parks in the world. Originally sited on the outskirts of the city, today this large forested area is completely surrounded by the urban center.
Containing nine museums, a zoo, an amusement park, and a variety of green recreational spaces located near popular commercial districts, Chapultepec Park is an invaluable ecological oasis, and a cultural, social, and civic space for the city residents and its visitors. Up to 15 million people visit the urban park each year, often keeping to a few of the more popular areas.
Built on an islet in the center of the lake, the city of Mexico grew up with a network of canals and artificial islands, making the Templo Mayor take place. The Spanish conquerors built he Metropolitan Cathedral on top of it, so the memory of the old and imposing pre-Hispanic Temple was lost for centuries. In the late 70s, workers from the electricity company accidentally found structures that the archaeologists identified as the sought temple.
Fortunately, today you can visit a large dug up section in a good state of conservation. You can admire sections of the temples dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the lord of war, and Tlaloc, lord of the rain. Between the walls of several sections of the temple, there are altars, snakes carved in stone and an imposing Tzompantli, which is a wall covered with representations of skulls, this because the Aztecs worshipped the dead, tradition maintained by Mexicans.