About The National Palace of Mexico
El Palacio Nacional, or The National Palace of Mexico, stands on a site which has been central to Mexico’s governance since Aztec times.
History of the National Palace
The palace today is mostly built with the materials used in the palace of the 16th century emperor, Moctezuma. Cortes raised Moctezuma’s palace to the ground, and in the 1560s the site was used to house the viceroys of Nueva España.
It became the National Palace in 1821, following the Mexican War of Independence, and houses the bell rung by the priest and original leader of this conflict, Miguel Hidalgo. Hidalgo rang the bell in 1810 to signal Mexico’s independence during his famous “Cry of Dolores” speech, although he would not live to see this as he was beheaded shortly thereafter. This moment is replicated on the evening of the 15th September every year by the president, who shouts ¡Viva México! to start the celebrations for Dia de la Independencia (Independence Day).
The National Palace served as the main command point during the US-Mexican War of 1846-1848 and is currently the seat of the country’s president as well as being home to the Federal Treasury and National Archives.
The National Palace today
The main draw of the palace today, aside from its historical relevance and lovely colonial architecture, are Diego Rivera’s huge murals depicting Mexico’s history from the arrival of the plumed Aztec serpent god to the post-revolutionary period. The palace takes an hour or so to wander round, and it’s an interesting glimpse into the glossier side of political life in Mexico City.
Whilst the Palace is free to enter, you will need a form of valid ID to leave with security to gain entry. Closed Mondays, and occasionally unexpectedly on other days so it’s worth checking their website before going.
Getting to the National Palace
The palace is on the east side of the Zocalo, in the heart of the centro historico of Mexico City. The nearest metro stop is Zocalo (blue line 2). There’s plenty of other sites within walking distance round here.