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Metropolitan Cathedral


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Mexico City

National Palace 




The National Palace in Mexico City was built on the site of the Moctezuma II Aztec Palace following the Aztec defeat by Hernán Cortés. Started in 1522 the palace was developed over the years by Cortés and then as the Viceroy Palace until Mexican Independence in the 1820s and significant development since. Today the palace is famous for the murals depicting Mexican history from 16th century.


The National Palace in the heart of Mexico City, is located in the Zócalo, one of the largest public plazas in the world. Built in Barogue style the Palace, has been the official residence of the president of Mexico since 2018. Stretching for 200-meters (660 ft) on the east side, it also houses some of the offices of the Federal Treasury and the National Archives, which contains many important historical documents, and the Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada, one of the country's largest libraries.

Built of reddish tezontle stone on top of an Aztec palace in what was their capital city of Tenochtitlan, much of the current palace's building materials are from the original one that belonged to the 16th-century Aztec leader Moctezuma II.

Following the defeat of the Aztecs by Hernán Cortés, the land and the buildings on the site were claimed by Cortés, who, in 1522, had the palace rebuilt as a fortress. The Spanish crown bought the palace from the Cortés family in 1562 to house the Viceregal Palace when it became the seat of the Spanish viceroys. It remained so until Mexican Independence in the 1820s. 

After independence a number of changes were made to the Viceroy Palace, including renaming it the "National Palace".

During the colonial period, it underwent a great deal of alteration and enlargement and is one of the oldest and finest buildings in the city. 

The facade is bordered on the north and south by two towers and includes three main doorways, each of which leads to a different part of the building, parts of which are not accessible to visitors.

Above the central doorway, facing the Plasa, is the main balcony where just before 11pm on September 15, each year the president of Mexico is involved in a ceremony to commemorate Mexican Independence.


The ceremony includes ringing the bell that hangs above the balcony, known as the Freedom Bell. It was this bell that was rung to call for the rebellion against Spain on September 15th, 1810, at the start of the War of Independence, it is now rung on the anniversary of this event each year.

Within the palace are 14 courtyards, some of which are accessible to visitors. The Grand Courtyard  is accessed by the central door; the courtyard is surrounded by Baroque arches with a fountain in the centre of the courtyard.


From the courtyard a stairwell leads up to the 2nd floor; in the stairwell is a mural covering an area of 450 m2 (4800 ft2), depicting the history of Mexico from 1521 to 1930.


The murals within the arches were painted between 1929 and 1935, and are jointly titled "The Epic of the Mexican People".

The right-hand wall of the stairwell contains murals depicting pre-Hispanic Mexico and shows the life of the Aztec god Quetzalcóatl. It was he who sacrificed his blood to give life to men.

The largest panel, the Conquest, is in the middle, it is a realistic view of the history in all its gory detail. These murals, depicting what Tenochtitlan would have looked like in the time of the Aztecs and what life would have been like.


The uppermost part of this panel in the arch represents the battle for independence, while below this, the American and French invasions are represented as well as the Reform period and the Revolution of 1910.

The left-hand panel depicts early and mid-20th century, showing a Marxist kind of utopia.

From the 2nd floor a number of murals can be viewed providing more details of the history and life of the inhabitants.

Looking down provides a view over the courtyard and the fountain.



              All  Photographs were taken by and are copyright of Ron Gatepain

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