The City of Palaces is a nickname that is nearly 300 years old. The Spanish in Mexico were obsessed with building palaces to show off their wealth and strength. The nickname came from the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt who visited Mexico City in the late 18th century. He became so impressed with all the palaces that he gave the city this iconic alias.
Castillo de Chapultepec
One of two royal palaces in Mexico in which royalty actually resided, Chapultepec Castle originally belonged to the Spanish. In colonial Mexico, the highest-ranking officer was the viceroy. The viceroy was the symbol of the Spanish crown’s will and authority.
Although the Viceroy de Galvez gave the order for the castle’s construction, he died before he could ever use it. In the early 19th century, Mexicans pushed the Spanish out of the country. After the Mexican Independence War, the Mexican royal family started to use the castle. Today, Castillo de Chapultepec is a museum.
Palace de Iturbide
Palace of Iturbide is another royal palace of Mexico City and one of Mexico’s most important castles. In the beginning, the palace was a wedding gift for a count’s daughter. However, after Mexico gained independence, the Mexicans changed its name and made it the Palace of Iturbide.
The reason for this name was that the first Emperor of the First Mexican Empire Agustin de Iturbide lived in the palace and accepted the mantel of the emperor there as well. Agustin made the palace his home during his very short reign.
Right in the heart of Mexico City, Palacio Nacional is one of the oldest architectural sites in Mexico. The history of the building goes back to the Aztec Empire. When Hernan Cortez arrived in the city, he saw that the Aztecs had built a luxurious and highly impressive palace there.
So, in true colonizer fashion, he destroyed the palace and built a fortress in its place. Then the fortress turned into a palace again and has been in use for 500 years now. Palacio Nacional is now the home of Mexico’s presidents and it is also famous for the mural “History of Mexico.”
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Although not a palace in the literal sense, Palacio de Bellas Artes, or the Palace of Fine Arts, is one of the more recent palaces of Mexico City. Originally built as a theater in the late 19th century, the Palace of Fine Arts became a cultural hub after the independence struggle.
However, experts estimate that the history of the place goes even further. In colonial Mexico, the first building on the site was a church in the 17th century. After some time, the Mexicans turned it into a theater which then went on to become the Palace of Fine Arts.