The palace was constructed by order of Hernán Cortés in 1523, on top of what had been the tumbled ruins of Moctezuma’s palace. Its structure was going to function as a security fortress, and its appearance clearly resembles the intention. In 1562 Martín Cortés, Hernán’s son, sold the building to the Spanish crown, converting it into the Palacio Virreinal of New Spain.
It was Luis de Velasco and Juan Ruiz de Alarcón (second viceroy of New Spain) who occupied the space for the first time as a residence, adding halls and a prison to the royal court. The Palacio Virreinal suffered fires and looting, provoking several renovations that would continue through the 17th century, in which the Barroque architecture element was added.
In 1821, it was named Palacio Nacional when the three federal powers (legislative, executive and judicial) would reunite there. In 1863, emperor Maximiliano de Habsburgo ordered the construction of various projects to the palace’s interior and created the Insurgentes room in the presidential space, and an elaborate staircase named for empress Carlota.
In 1910 Porfirio Díaz ordered the presidential salons to be decorated for an enormous party to which he invited all diplomats and business class. Díaz was the last president to occupy the Palacio Nacional as a presidential living space, and then moved to Castillo de Chapultepec after it had rehabilitated.
Standouts of the 20th century artwork include Diego Rivera’s murals which he completed between 1929 and 1951 in the staircase and on the central patios, which tell the history of Mexico from the pre-Hispanic era to the beginning of the 20th century. There’s also a space dedicated to Benito Juárez where artifacts, furniture and documents of the former president can be found.
The final modifications were completed during the rule of Plutarco Elías Calles in 1926, with the construction of a third level. It was then that they restored the façade and gave us the Palacio Nacional as we know it today. These days, it’s the official headquarters of the country’s executive power, though it’s not the official residence of the president. The Palacio Nacional is now the location of such celebrations as the Grito de Independencia and military parades, as well as a showcase for temporary exhibits on national and international history.
|Venue name:||Palacio Nacional|
Plaza de la Constitución s/n
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-3pm|