A castle is the last thing I am expecting to find when I decided to tour and visit Mexico City. But expect the unexpected because I found Chapultepec Castle or Castillo De Chapultepec which is also unexpectedly located in the middle of a very huge park, the Chapultepec Park. This park is so big, it is even bigger than the famous Central Park of New York City.
The funny thing is, while roaming around the castle area, I am reminded by a number of things and I am telling myself that I have seen such place in the past. And then I realized that this was the place where some scenes were shot in the 1996 movie Romeo & Juliet starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Clare Danes. It was the set of the Capulet Mansion in that movie!
The castle has been home for different purposes throughout its long history. It has been a military academy, a presidential home, of course the royal residence, as well as an observatory. Now it houses Mexico’s National Museum of History.
It is the only castle in North America ever actually used as a royal home. It was the residence of Emperor Maximilian I and his wife Empress Carlota. And during such time, it was still considered to be in the outskirts of Mexico City. This emperor then wanted to connect his castle to the main city. He then ordered the construction of a road so as to link it to the energetic city. That road now is known as the bustling and affluent Paseo Dela Reforma.
The construction of the castle started in 1775 and in 1806 it was purchased by Mexico City’s municipal government. It was mostly abandoned during the Mexican War of Independence. But it rose to prominence again with the story that is probably the most famous event that has taken place in that castle, the Niños Heroes (or Hero Children).
Niños Heroes are six Mexican boys who defended the castle against the U.S. soldiers invasion of the castles in September 13, 1847 during the bloody Mexican-American War. These boys are now permanently honored throughout the grounds of the castle through massive sculptures, artifact exhibits and a commemorative mural painting.
Besides the beauty of the castle itself, there are lovely gardens and grounds. You also got fantastic view of the city and the park’s surroundings. And since it is now the National Museum of History, there are also historical artifacts, exhibits and furnishings that I really enjoyed seeing.
Chapultepec Castle caught me in such a big surprise, that it is one site that I would recommend seeing when in Mexico City. It was one lovely and surprisingly enriching visit.
Mapapa-biba Meksiko ka sa ganda!