June 2022. Although I have been in Mexico before, the last time was in 1994-1995. Twenty-seven years later, Oriol and I are doing a classic tour of the United Mexican States, featuring Mexico City (CDMX); Palenque in Chiapas; Villahermosa in Tabasco; Uxmal, Mérida, Chichen Itza, Ek’ Balam, Valladolid, and a few cenotes (waterholes) in Yucatán and Tulum in Quintana Roo. We returned via Cancún to CDMX and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
The Museo Nacional de Historia or National History Museum tells the (hi)story of Mexico as a nation. From the colonial conquest by Spain until the 20th and 21st century.
It is located in Chapultepec Castle or Castillo de Chapultepec in Chapultepec Park in – you guessed it – Chapultepec.
The name Chapultepec is the Nahuatl word ‘chapoltepēc‘ which means “on the hill of the grasshopper”. You can find grasshopper coats of arms around the palace.
The site of the hill was a sacred place for Aztecs, and the buildings atop it have served several purposes during its history, including that of the Military Academy, Imperial residence, Presidential residence, observatory, and since the 1940s, the National Museum of History.
Chapultepec Castle, along with Iturbide Palace, also in Mexico City, are the only royal palaces in North America.
It was built during the Viceroyalty as a summer house for the highest colonial administrator, the viceroy. It was given various uses, from a gunpowder warehouse to a military academy in 1841. It became the official residence of Emperor Maximilian I and his Belgian consort Empress Carlota during the Second Mexican Empire (1864–67).
Later it became a presidential residence and in 1944 it opened as a museum.
We squeezed Chapultepec in between a visit to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez and the Frida Kahlo Museum. So we didn’t have much time and we didn’t think we needed much time.
That was a wrong call. There are five segments at Chupaltepec.
- The actual museum, with the history of Mexico. Insightful. An odd quirk was that there was no portrait of Emperor Maximilian on display.
- The hall with the carriages.
- The palace segment, showing the the residence of the emperor and president José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori. Porfirio Díaz was a dictator.
- The 200 years of Mexican Armada exhibition.
- The Niños Héroes exhibition. Six teenage cadets were killed at the 1847 Battle of Chapultepec.
We saw everything in less than two hours. That was rushed.
- REVIEW | KLM Amsterdam Schiphol to Mexico City on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in economy.
- MEXICO CITY | Zócalo.
- MEXICO CITY | Templo Mayor.
- REVIEW | Hotel Carlota in Mexico City.
- MEXICO | Teotihuacan.
- MEXICO CITY | National Museum of Anthropology or Museo Nacional de Antropología.
- FORMULA 1 MEXICO CITY GRAND PRIX | Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.