Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

The Five Major Landmarks of Mexico City

A guide to the sites and information on their history


Presented by

Chapultepec Castle

Castillo de Chapultepec is a castle built on top of Chapultepec Hill in Mexico City. Chapultepec is Náhuatl and means "at the grasshopper hill. The structure itself has been used for several different purposes throughout its history, some of these include an Imperial and Presidential home, observatory, military academy, and in its present state a museum. It is the only castle located in North America that was ever occupied by European sovereigns.

The castles construction began in 1785 when then viceroy, Bernardo de Gálvez, ordered acountry house be built at the highest point of Chapultepec Hill. A Lieutenant Colonel of the Spanish Army, Francisco Bambitelli, was commissioned to engineer the construction. Bambitelli was eventually replaced by Captain Manuel Agustín Mascaró when the Lieutenant Colonel made way for Havana. Mascaró was accused of building a fortress
with the intent of rebelling against the Spanish Crown. He died suddenly on November 8, 1786 giving rise to speculation of poisoning by those fearing his uprising against the crown.

The building’s future fell into disarray as the lack of engineer in charge drew the construction to a close. The monarchy wanted the building to be sold for a substantial loss. The castle could not even fetch 1/5 the price of construction. Shortly after giving up on the sale of the castle, Viceroy Juan Guermes Pacheco decided to use the building to house the General Archive of the Kingdom of New Spain, but that plan to never came to fruition.

The building was finally bought in 1806 by the municipal government of Mexico City. In 1864, Mexican Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico and his wife Empress Carlota established their Imperial residence at Chapultepec Castle.

Location of Chapultepec Castle

The castle is located on Chapultepec Hill in Chapultepec Park. It is located on Paseo de La Reforma heading west from the heart of Mexico City.

Recommended Stay Near Attraction:
Gran Melia Mexico Reforma
Four Seasons Hotel México, D.F.

El Angel

El Ángel de la Independencia is a victory column located on a roundabout over Paseo de la Reforma in downtown Mexico City. It is referred to most often by its shortened name, El Ángel. Its official name is Columna de la Independencia.

El Ángel was built in commemoration the 100 year anniversary of Mexico's War of Independence, which was celebrated in 1910. In 1925 the remains of a number of the heroes of this conflict were interred at the base of the monument, making it a mausoleum. It is probably the most recognizable landmark in Mexico City, and during its almost 100 year existence has become a focal point for both celebration and protest.

On the base of the column there are four bronze sculptures, which symbolize Law, War, Justice and Peace. Also, next to the column, there is a group of marble statues of some of the heroes of the War of Independence.

On the main face of the base, which faces downtown Mexico City, there is an inscription reading La Nación a los Héroes de la Independencia. In front of this inscription is abronze statue of a giant lion led by a child, representing strength and the innocence of youth during War but docility during Peace.

The column of the structure itself is 36 meters high. The structure of the statue is made of steel covered with quarried stone decorated with garlands, palms and rings with the names of Independence figures.

Location of El Angel
Located on the first major round about on Paseo de La Reforma, a short drive west of
Chapultepec Park.

Recommended Stay Near Attraction:
Gran Melia Mexico Reforma
Four Seasons Hotel México, D.F.

Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan

The Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan rose 197 ft above the city of Tenochtitlan’s ritual precinct, Tenochtitlan was of capital of the Aztec empire and current site of modern day Mexico City. The Great Pyramid, or Temple Mejor as it is also known, was surmounted by dual shrines to the god of war Huitzilopochtli and god of fertility Tlaloc.

The temple was almost entirely destroyed in 1521 after the conquest of the Aztec empire by the Spanish conquistadores. Remains of the lower portions of the temple complex have been discovered by modern archaeologists buried under a portion of modern Mexico City.

The temple was enlarged several times during its history, and for the last time in 1487, when between 2,000 and 20,000 people were sacrificed over 4 days during its reconsecration.

Location of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan
The Museum is set in the heart of downtown Mexico City in the area known as the Historical Center. It is East of Tacuba Sqaure.

Recommended Stay Near Attraction:
Gran Melia Mexico Reforma
Four Seasons Hotel México, D.F.

National Palace

The National Palace is holds the federal executive in Mexico. It is located in Mexico City's main square, the Plaza de la Constitución or El Zócal.

The Origins of the Palace

The palace was constructed in 1563 after the conquest of New Spain. After fires in 1659 and 1692 left the building in disarray, the palace was reconstructed in its present day form.

The building was renamed the National Palace in 1821 with the culmination of the War of Independence against Spain. The Executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government were all housed in the palace at that time.

Changes at the Palace

After the Battle for Mexico City during the Mexican-American War, as military governor, Gen. John A. Quitman became the only American to ever rule from the palace. During the second Mexican Empire, Maximilian I renamed it the Imperial Palace. When the empire ended in 1867, the building was once again called the National Palace, and it continued to be the seat of the executive authority and the official residence of the President.

The Contemporary Palace

In 1926, a third level was added to the palace under the government of Plutarco Elías Calles. Between 1929 and 1951, the muralist Diego Rivera produced in the palace enormous murals depicting and celebrating the history of Mexico. Between 1999 and 2000, during the government of Ernesto Zedillo, the palace was substantially remodeled and restored.

Location of the National Palace
Located in the Heart of Mexico City in the center of Zocalo.

Recommended Stay Near Attraction:
Gran Melia Mexico Reforma
Four Seasons Hotel México, D.F.

Plaza de la Constitución

Plaza de la Constitución has been the center of Mexico City since the construction of the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan on modern day Seminario Street.

The Plaza de Armas changed its name to the Plaza de la Constitución in 1812 to celebrate the Cadiz Constitution. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna ordered the erection of a monument to commemorate the nation's Independence in the center of the Plaza in 1843. Santa Anna accepted a proposal for an independence column by the architect Lorenzo de la Hidalgo. On September 16, 1843, the base for the column,a block of white marble
about two-and-a-half meters tall, was laid. A lack of dunds left the construction of the monument to the base alone. Over the years the stone became referred to as the zócalo. The zócalo was used as the base of a bandstand in the plaza, and the word zócalo came to be used for the entire plaza.

Location of Plaza de la Constitucion
Located in the Heart of Mexico City in the center of Zocalo.

Recommended Stay Near Attraction:
Gran Melia Mexico Reforma
Four Seasons Hotel México, D.F.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

Share this article with a friend:

Free eNewsletter SignUp

Sally's Place on Facebook    Sally Bernstein on Instagram    Sally Bernstein at Linked In

Global Resources

Handmade Chocolates, Lillie Belle Farms

Food411 Food Directory