Chapultepec Castle – National Museum of History

The majestic Chapultepec Forest is located in Mexico City, an urban park crowned by the majestic Chapultepec Castle, a historic building of national importance.

A good holiday in the capital of the country must include in the points to visit this castle, enabled as a museum to receive thousands of visitors every day.

CASTILLO DE CHAPULTEPEC MUSEO NACIONAL DE HISTORIA CIUDAD DE MEXICO CITY

Chapultepec Castle – National Museum of Art

When walking between its walls of high ceilings we will find the collections of the old National Museum of Archeology, History and Ethnography. Its turn as a museum has been in force since 1944, when it was finished conditioning as such after President Lázaro Cárdenas decreed it. Previously it had been the official residence of who was the highest president of the country, since the end of the 19th century. The one who inhabited the castle the longest was the dictator Porfirio Díaz: after him the place was brief home for the presidents Francisco I. Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Álvaro Obregón, Plutarco Elías Calles, Emilio Portes Gil, Pascual Ortiz Rubio and Abelardo L. Rodriguez

Its name is due to its environment and the Nahuatl language: the word Chapultepec is a word composed of two particles: chapul (from which chapulín derives) and tepe or tepetl (whose meaning is hill). In the middle of the 18th century, Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez and Madrid ordered the construction of this castle on the “Cerro del Chapulín”, that is, “Chapultepec”.

The property was thought of as the summer house of royalty, although Bernardo did not see the project finished, as he died a couple of years before it was completed, already in 1788. The construction plans were the work of the engineer and Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Bambitelli It is said that the land on which the castle was built was precisely where the residence of Moctezuma II was located.

CASTILLO DE CHAPULTEPEC MUSEO NACIONAL DE HISTORIA CIUDAD DE MEXICO CITY

After the start of the Mexican War of Independence, the castle suffered abandonment and deterioration: even the geographer and humanist Alexander von Humboldt pointed out the misuse that was given to the components of the castle, which was being dismantled in its decorative elements to sell them in favor of the Spanish crown. This was before the local government of Mexico City took over the property.

Already with the ties cut to Spain, the famous Military College was established in the building. It was during this stage when (during the war against the invasion of the United States) there was one of the controversial events whose veracity is still discussed, in reference to the so-called Children Heroes.

The myth says that Juan Escutia, a member of the military school that defended the fortress, wrapped himself with the Mexican flag to throw himself into the void from the top of the castle, so that the flag did not fall into the hands of the American invaders. The United States Army bombed the place in September 1847.

CASTILLO DE CHAPULTEPEC MUSEO NACIONAL DE HISTORIA CIUDAD DE MEXICO CITY

Time passed, already in the sixties of the nineteenth century, Mexico once again experienced the foreign invasion, in the period classified as the French intervention. Under the pretext of non-payment of the foreign debt that Mexico had, England, Spain and France determined the invasion, which would culminate in the declaration of the Second Mexican Empire. The offer to head the monarchical government was made to Maximilian of Habsburg, who arrived with his wife Carlota to assume themselves as emperors: they made Chapultepec Castle their official residence.

The legacy

This passage in the history of Mexico was portrayed in a novel way in the famous book of Fernando del Paso, News of the Empire (1987), voluminous text that explores the life of Maximiliano, Carlota and Benito Juárez. This historical novel is the most celebrated book by the Mexican author: it took more than ten years to complete its writing, during which time he conducted several investigations to fiction the story truthfully.

During his brief stay in Mexico (and culminating in his shooting at Cerro de las Campanas), Maximiliano modified the castle, hiring Mexican and European architects to make adjustments. He also furnished many of the rooms, even with art: his legacy is still present in the place.

CASTILLO DE CHAPULTEPEC MUSEO NACIONAL DE HISTORIA CIUDAD DE MEXICO CITY

The second Mexican empire fell in 1867, and with it Chapultepec Castle itself returned to the lethargy of abandonment. He had to spend a decade to recover his role in the Mexican State: first as an astronomical observatory for a short time, and then again as the main house of the president of the country, until Lázaro Cárdenas decided to turn it into a museum.

Currently, Chapultepec Castle is the headquarters of the National History Museum, which has six permanent collections, cataloged according to their format and characteristics: painting, numismatics, documents, technology, clothing and furniture. In addition to the usual exhibitions, the museum receives temporary samples, adding a total of fifteen large rooms.

But the dive into history is not there, because there are also valuable collections: there is a historical library on the premises, complemented by a modern video library and a photo library.

Chapultepec Castle is also home to several representatives of the great Mexican art of the twentieth century, as there are murals on its walls that record events of history. One of the most recent dates from 1970, entitled Sacrifice of the Children Heroes, by the painter Gabriel Flores.

José Clemente Orozco presented the theme of the Reformation and the empire in a 1948 work. A few years later David Alfaro Siqueiros did the same with the theme of the Porfirian era and the arrival of the revolution. Antonio González Orozco, Jorge González Camarena, Santiago Rebul and Juan O’Gorman twice are the rest of the painters who decorate the appearance of the most emblematic and unique castle of its kind in the Continent.

CASTILLO DE CHAPULTEPEC MUSEO NACIONAL DE HISTORIA CIUDAD DE MEXICO CITY

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