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Etapas Históricas

In the times of the second viceroy of New Spain, Don Luis de Velasco (1550 - 1564), a pleasure mansion was built on one of the slopes of Chapultepec Hill. In this place the newly arrived viceroys of Spain lodged, while their triumphal entry to the capital of New Spain was organized (remember that at that time Chapultepec was on the outskirts of Mexico City). Over time, the building was abandoned and finally, it was seriously damaged by the explosion of a nearby powder magazine. For this reason, the architects in charge of the reconstruction, by order of Viceroy Matías de Gálvez, suggested the construction of a new palace on the top of the hill.

In 1785, during the government of Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez (1785-1786), the construction of the new palace began. It was conducted under the direction of two engineers, first Francisco Bambitelli and then Manuel Agustín Mascaró. Nevertheless the project did not prosper and the Spanish Crown ordered to suspend the works and to auction the place; transaction that was not successful because nobody was interested in the building. The ministers of the Royal Treasury took advantage of the abandonment of the enclosure to auction glass, doors and windows, until the City Council of Mexico City acquired it in 1806, preventing it from being in the hands of private individuals. According to the plans and various sources, this is what the Palace of Chapultepec would look like, although its construction was never completed by the death of Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez:


Top floor

1. Viceroy's bedroom

2. Stairs

3. Viceroy´s office

4. Royal guard's room

5. Main stairs

6. Sacristy

7. Living room of the palace

8. Prayer room

9. Tribune

10. Podium hall

11. Children bedroom

12. Asistence

13. Viceroy's chamber

14. Cloackroom

15. Bathroom

Low level

16. GUest rooms

17. Stair

18. Storage room

19. Kitchen

20. Archive

21. Secretary room

22. Secretary

23. Main stair

24. Anteroom of the secretary

25. Corps of guard

26. Main entrance

27. Guard's room

28. Chamber assitant's room

29. Steward's room

30. Page's room

31. Groom's room

32. Lackey's room

33. Aide's room

34. Garage

It was in 1833 when the decision was taken to convert the then abandoned palace of Chapultepec into the headquarters of the Military College. In 1841, the reconstruction of the building began. Among the adaptations made to the building was the construction, on the highest part of the hill, of a tower or "Caballero Alto", which gave it the appearance of strength. That was when he was called "Castillo".

Years later, this construction was occupied for the first time as the residence of the Mexican Executive Power. Miguel Miramón, a former student of the Military College, chose the Castillo as his presidential residence during his term as interim agent of the conservative side (1859-1860). During his stay he made some adjustments to the building to make it habitable, such as the construction of new rooms on the second floor of the Alcázar and the south balustrade.


Low level

1. Refectorio de alumnos

2. Armero

3. Refectorio de oficiales

4. Cocina

5. Habitación mayordomo

6. Pabellón de oficiales

7. Pasadizos

8. Habitación de capellán

9. Escalera principal

10. Depósito de

11. Retención de oficiales

12. Pórtico

13. Retención de alumnos

14. Depósito de 1a


15. Depósito General

16. Pabellón de oficiales

17. Enfermería

18. Gimnasio

Top floor

19. Dormitorios

20. Habitación del capitán de 1a Compañía

21. Escalera de dormitorios

22. Pabellón de oficiales

23. Clase del 2o curso

24. Clase de fortificaciones y caballería

25. Escalera principal

26. Gabinete de física

27. Clase de astronomía

28. Sala de dibujo natural

29. Sala de dibujo lineal

30. Clase de mecánica y geografía

31. Clase de astronomía

32. Habitación del oficial

The Alcázar acquired its current appearance when the Austrian archduke Maximilian of Hapsburg and his wife, the Belgian princess Carlota Amalia, resided in the Castle between 1864 and 1867, during the Second French Intervention. The building was converted into a palace by Mexican architect Ramón Rodríguez Arangoity, former student of the Military College, and the gardens were redesigned by the Austrian botanist Wilhelm Knechtel, although, according to Carlota, "it was more due to Max's hand." While the works progressed, furniture, pianos, porcelain and silver china, oils with portraits of the imperial couple, tapestries, table clocks, tablecloths and glassware arrived to make the Alcázar a real palace.

Maximiliano and Carlota chose as rooms the rooms of the ground floor that looked towards the East, towards the City of Mexico, the lake of Texcoco and the volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl; which is why they ordered to build a panoramic terrace in front of their rooms.


1. Arcades and balconies are added to the south façade

2. A central porch is built, composed of five half-point arches

3. A tower that connects the 2 floors is built

4. East terrace is built overlooking Mexico City

5. The Board Room is built

6. Added loggia with iron columns

7. New garden design

In 1878 the first National Astronomical Observatory was established in the Chapultepec Castle, for which the building was once again conditioned. Specialized equipment was installed, the main telescope was arranged in the High Knight, for which a dome was added to the tower; In addition, new rooms and two guard posts were built. In 1883 the observatory was transferred to the town of Tacubaya so that the Castle could become, again, Military College, in addition to summer residence of Porfirio Diaz.

Diaz intended the building to be a showcase for Mexico's artistic and technological progress, in part because it was frequented by foreign characters. He installed, for example, a large stained glass window on the east terrace of the upper floor of the Alcázar, which has been preserved to date; elevators, including one that climbed people from the base of the hill; and a bowling alley, a fashion game among the well-to-do, in whose room the first cinema exhibition was held in Mexico in 1896.

On the other hand, President Díaz decided to convert the forest surrounding the Castle into a park for citizenship. Roads and streams were laid, sculptures were installed, a botanical garden and kiosks, and an artificial lake was created.


1. The west section of the building was built to house facilities of the Military College

2. The lodge begun in the Maximilian period was completed

3. The High Knight was endowed with a dome for astronomical observation

4. Rooms were added

5. Leaded stained glass windows were installed

In 1916, President Venustiano Carranza ordered the demolition of the building southwest of the College (built during the Porfirian era) to make the Alcazar more visible; that is where he installed the offices of the federal government and the presidential residence. The consecutive presidents maintained this headquarters until the government of Abelardo Rodríguez.

In 1939, President Lázaro Cárdenas decreed that the National Museum of History be installed in the Chapultepec Castle, an area declared a national heritage site. Between 1941 and 1944 the building was restored and adapted to house the collections that had been designated to the museum. On September 27, 1944, President Miguel Ávila Camacho inaugurated the National Museum of History.


Top floor

1. Salón de usos múltiples

2. Sala de juntas

3. Dirección

4. Depósito de colecciones

5. Sala de exposiciones temporales

6. Salón de actos

7. Caballero Alto

8. Jardines de Alcázar

9. Recámara de Porfirio Díaz  

10. Elevador

11. Salón de emplomados

12. Salón recepciones

13. Vitrales

14. Recámara de Carmelita R. Rubio

Low level

15. Pórtico central

16. Explanada

17. Salón de carruajes

18. Salón de té

19. Elevador

20. Salón de té

21. Gabinete de aseo

22. Gabinete de aseo

23. Sala de Carlota

24. Salón de acuerdos

25. Elevador

26. Salón de Gobelinos

27. Recámara de Carlota

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