-The Palacio Nacional - National Palace
is an outstanding
neo-classical building sited atop of what once was the Palace of
Moctezuma the Second, the last of the Aztec kings. It was then used
as the residence of the viceroys of the Spanish crown during the
colonial times and it actually serves as the seat of the Mexican
government. In its interior rooms there are some impressive wall
paintings by Diego Rivera, depicting the history of the Country
embracing a period from the Pre-Hispanic times up o the year of
1929. It also includes a well stocked library that contains the
archives of the City.
On every night of September 15th, a tradition requests that the President of Mexico appears at the main balcony of the National Palace and from there he presides the moving ceremony known as "El Grito" or "The Rallying Cry", during which the president rings the same bell that the father Miguel Hidalgo tolled in 1910 to summon the people of Dolores and thus started the Independence Wars. After ringing the bell, the president will consequently proclaim the independence of Mexico, and there after the crowd will respond with the shouts of "¡Viva Mexico!", and "¡Viva la Independencia!"
The National Palace is located in the eastern side of the Plaza de la Constitucion.
-The Catedral Metropolitana - Cathedral,
of the biggest religious buildings of the entire Continent and a
clear evidence of the different currents that comprise the Mexican
Colonial Art. It was also built over the remains of a former Aztec
temple. Its construction took almost three centuries, finally being
concluded in 1873.
The first works were done under the surveillance of the Spanish
architect Claudio de Arciniega, following a Renaissance style. On
the next stages of the constructing process, Baroque, Gothic and
styles were mingled together, to finish
it up with a 19th century French Neoclassical style.
This monumental precinct comprises five naves and 15 altars, some of them richly ornamented. Specially remarkable are the Altar del Perdon (Forgiveness Altar), located near the entrance of the Temple, with its huge altarpiece dating from the 17th century, and the Altar de los Reyes, that shows an overloaded decoration consisting on angels, saints and many other carvings.
Beside the Cathedral stands the Sagrario Metropolitano
a parochial church in the shape of a Greek Cross and a Churrigueresque
styled facade, built in the 18th century.
Due to the fact that the Cathedral is located over marshy grounds -alike most of the buildings in the Centro Historico of the Distrito Federal- it has been steadily sinking throughout the years, thus endangering the actual Cultural Patrimony of Mexico.
supposedly constructed by the mexicas
(afterwards known as the Aztecs), in the spot where the mythological
eagle devoured the serpent. The existence of this Pre-Hispanic temple
was only recently discovered in 1978, due to the fortuitous finding
of a colossal stone disk that, weighting more than eight tons, shows
on its surface a representation of Coyolxauhqui, the moon goddess
and sister of Huitzilopochtli.
After this discovery, many other archaeological findings followed, resulting in the unearthing of two temples. One of them is now believed to honour Huitzilopochtli, the god of war. The other to worship Tlaloc, the god of the rain.
On the grounds of the Museo del Templo Mayor -built in a style reminiscent the great Aztec buildings- the great disk of rock is now exhibited, along with other precious objects that were also found during the excavations and research that took place in this area.
This important Aztec centre is located only few metres away from the Sagrario Church.
-The Conjunto de San Idelfonso Complex,
1992 hosts the main itinerant expositions that festoon the cultural
environment of the Historical Centre. Its walls are decorated with
murals from the Mexican artists Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco
and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
In ancient times, San Ildefonso served as a renowned Jesuit school that was founded in 1588. It is located beside the Main Temple.
The Iglesia de Santo Domingo - Church,
by the Dominicans in the year of 1539, becoming the major centre
for this religious order for many years. Made in a Baroque style,
it shows a splendid tiled tower and six exquisitely adorned chapels.
Inside it contains a priceless altarpiece from the late 18th century.
The temple -which was rebuilt in 1736-, is located on the Santo Domingo Square, a public space with colonial reminiscences, which became famous by the presence of the so called "evangelistas", a sort of itinerant scribes that, provided with some old-fashioned typewriters, offer their services for composing letters, documents and alike jobs to the passers by.
-The Palacio de la Inquisicion - Palace
served as the seat of the "Santo Oficio", or the inquisitional court.
It was built in the year of 1736 near the Church of Santo Domingo.
The task felled on the hands of Pedro de Arrieta, who made a superb
design of a two bodied edifice whit an imposing and particular façade.
During colonial times, the Palacio de la Inquisicion witnessed many trials and interrogations of presumed heretics, who were subjected to terrible ordeals that not infrequently included torture. The Court was abolished one 10th of June in the year of 1820. From then on, the building hosted some different public institutions, among which the Escuela Nacional de Medicina, or National School of Medicine (1854). Nowadays it serves as a museum that shows the history of medicine in Mexico. It can be found at the corner of the Avenida Republica del Brasil and Avenida Republica de Venezuela Avenues.
-The Iglesia y Ex Convento de San Francisco - Church and
Built on top of what once was the "casa de
las fieras" or "house of the wild beasts", a private zoo that belonged
to the emperor Moctezuma, was erected one of the biggest religious
complex of colonial times. From that huge precinct of the faith
there only remains a beautiful church, whose façade and stone portal
stand out as perfect examples of the churrigueresque
This Church was a part of a monastery with an area that extended for more than 32,490 square metres. By the time that the Independence of Mexico was declared in 1821, the seat of the Franciscans included a convent and other splendid facilities, loaded with priceless works of art and historical documents.
Most of the Monastery was destroyed in 1856, amid the struggles between religious and political powers. Four years later the Franciscans were banned from Mexico, their belongings expropriated and sold. But this Church was spared and later returned to the hands of the Order in the year of 1949. Located in the Madero Street.
-The Casa de los Azulejos - House of the Glazed Tiles,
the splendid Baroque style employed, its copper railings and churrigueresque
columns on its main patio make of this casona or mansion -built
in 1596 by orders of the counts of Valle de Orizaba- one of the
handsomest in the whole Historical Centre.
Its façade is covered by showy blue and white glazed tiles, installed around the middle of the 18th century, contrasting with the sombre countenance of the close by Church of San Francisco. Another outstanding feature is a beautiful mural painting by Jose Clemente Orozco, done in 1925.
In the present days, the Casa de los Azulejos is the main premises of a chain of restaurants.
- The Torre Latinoamericana - Tower,
is a 43 story
building and offers a wonderful sight of the valleys and mountains
of the surroundings of the City. It was the tallest building of
the Country until the construction of the principal offices of Petroleos
The tower, built in 1956, comprises radio and television offices and broadcasting stations. It is located between the Madero and Lazaro Cardenas Streets and can be visited every day of the week.
-The Museo Nacional de las Culturas - National Museum of
a majestic palace from the 18th century with
walls of tezontle stones (reddish stones of volcanic origin), that
shelters cultural manifestations of ancient cultures and precious
objects of art belonging to different epochs.
It contains more than twenty halls devoted to art, archaeology and to the prehistoric era, exhibiting from the latter, and objects proceeding from ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Japan and several African cultures among others. The building itself was part of the National Palace until 1731, when remodelling and improving works of the by then Casa de la Moneda started, which by the 19th century would be relocated in the Apartado Street.
In 1865, the old premise where gold and silver cash used to be coined was converted into the Museo Publico de Historia Natural, Arqueologia e Historia, one of the first museums constituted in the Country. It is located between the La Moneda and Correo Mayor Streets, on the same block as the National Palace.
-The Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico - Mexico City Museum
exhibits archaeological objects from Pre-Hispanic times, as well
as colonial and 19th and 20th century pieces that depict the historical
and cultural development of Mexico City
. It is
sited in an imposing colonial palace from the 18th century, known
as the house of the Counts of Santiago de Calimaya. Located on number
30 Pino Suarez street.
-The Museo Nacional de Arte - National Art Museum
paintings, sculptures, engravings and photographs that show the
artistic process of Mexico from the 16th to the middle of the 20th
century. Among its priceless pieces -that also include manuscripts
and furnishings of those times- can be mentioned the colonial oil
paintings by Jose Juarez, the works of Diego Rivera and of David
The Museum was created in 1982. The building, located on the Manuel Tolsa Square was formerly the seat of the Secretaria de Comunicaciones or Communications Office.
-The Palacio de Bellas Artes - Palace of Fine Arts
is the cultural centre of the City and an authentic motive of pride
to the Mexicans. Its construction was started at the beginnings
of the twentieth century, ordered by the president Porfirio Diaz
who entrusted the work to the Italian architect Adamo Boari. Nevertheless,
the works were interrupted during the times of the Mexican Revolution,
which ravaged the Country from 1910 to 1921.
This superb marble building was not finished until 1934. Its final design, made by the Mexican Federico Mariscal, shows a mixture of architectonical styles, blending neoclassical lines with modernistic features, especially concerning the façade. On the other hand, the interiors can be depicted as a kind of Aztec Art Deco. The entrance hall contains beautiful mural paintings by Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo and Roberto Montenegro.
The Palace was inaugurated in 1934 with the mise en scene of the comedy The Suspicious Truth. In its premises also function the Teatro de Bellas Artes (Theatre of Fine Arts) and the Museo de Artes Plasticas, which will be described in lines below.
The Palace has indeed sunk into the ground more than four metres, due to its colossal dimensions, its huge weight and the swampy nature of the soil. It is located in the Alameda Central.
-The Palacio de Iturbide - Palace.
- The Teatro de Bellas Artes - Fine Arts Theatre
with a capacity of thirty four hundred spectators, it has hosted
theatre plays, opera, symphonic concerts, ballet and traditional
dance performances, the later by its own company of Folkloric
Ballet. A special feature is the curtain of the scenario, weighting
almost twenty tons and composed by a rigid screen with mosaics
representing the Popocatepetl and the Iztaccihuatl volcanoes,
both from the Valley of Mexico. It was prepared by the famous
Tiffany's jewellery store of New York.
- The Museo de Artes Plasticas - Museum of Paintings,
It contains an interesting pictorial collection from the 19th
and 20th centuries, which includes works by Rufino Tamayo, Jose
Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Sequeiros and Diego Rivera among
others. There is a replica of the mural painting The man at
the crossroads from the later, which the artist produced assigned
by the Rockefeller Center of New York. The original painting
was later censored and destroyed in view of its "communist ideas".
Considering its splendid Baroque
style it is regarded as one of the architectonical jewels of the
City. It was built in the 18th century for the Marquis Jarraj de
Berrio. Nevertheless, it is actually known by the name of one of
the major characters of the Independence War, Agustin de Iturbide,
who dwelled in this Palace in the years of 1821 and 1822. He won
a place in the books of history when he proclaimed himself Emperor
Today, this magnificent building is the property of the Fundacion Cultural Banamex (the Ciltute Fund of the National Bank of Mexico) that uses its facilities to exhibit its more than four thousand works of art.
-The Palacio de Mineria - Palace of Mining,
out as the top expression in Neoclassical Mexican style, combining
in an almost perfect way its elegant lines with a masterful employment
of light and space. From 1797 to 1813, the Spanish architect and
sculptor Manuel Tolsa planned and carried on the construction of
the building, conceived to be the seat of the Real Seminario de
Actually it is a part of the School of Engineering of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) - The National Autonomous University of Mexico. It is located on Tacuba Street, facing the Manuel Tolsa Square.
-The Poliforum Cultural Siqueiros
is a building
in the shape of a polygon designed and ornamented by the artist
David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of the foremost mural painters of Mexico.
It is located in the Avenida Insurgentes Avenue, nearby the well
known Hotel of Mexico.
Considered by the critics as a "self monument", the Poliforum includes in its facilities works of great artistic value, as La marcha de la humanidad or The march of humanity, a huge mural painting that combines the techniques of acrylic painting with metallic sculpturing. It stands out as one of the biggest in the world.