National Palace (Mexico)
The National Palace, or Palacio Nacional in Spanish), was the seat of the federal
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

 executive in Mexico. It is located on Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

's main square, the Plaza de la Constitución (El Zócalo
The Zócalo is the main plaza or square in the heart of the historic center of Mexico City. The plaza used to be known simply as the "Main Square" or "Arms Square," and today its formal name is Plaza de la Constitución...

). This site has been a palace for the ruling class of Mexico since the Aztec empire, and much of the current palace's building materials are from the original one that belonged to Moctezuma II
Moctezuma II
Moctezuma , also known by a number of variant spellings including Montezuma, Moteuczoma, Motecuhzoma and referred to in full by early Nahuatl texts as Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin, was the ninth tlatoani or ruler of Tenochtitlan, reigning from 1502 to 1520...


Current complex

Used and classified as a Government Building, the National Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

, with its red tezontle
Tezontle is a porous, extrusive, igneous, volcanic rock used extensively in construction in Mexico. It is usually reddish in color.-Uses:Tezontle can be mixed with concrete to form lightweight concrete blocks, or mixed with cement to create stucco finishes. Tezontle is often used as the top...

 facade, fills the entire east side of the Zocalo
The Zócalo is the main plaza or square in the heart of the historic center of Mexico City. The plaza used to be known simply as the "Main Square" or "Arms Square," and today its formal name is Plaza de la Constitución...

, measuring over 200 meters long. It is home to some of the offices of both the Federal Treasury and the National Archives
Archivo General de la Nación (Mexico)
The Archivo General de la Nación is charged by the Mexican state to "be the governing body of the national archives and the central consultative entity of the Federal Executive." The writer Edmundo O'Gorman was its general director from 1938 until 1952...



The facade is bordered on the north and south by two towers and include three main doorways, each of which lead to a different part of the building. The southern door leads to the Patio of Honor and presidential offices (no public access). The northern door is known as the Mariana Door, named in honor of Mariano Arista
Mariano Arista
Mariano Arista was a noted veteran of many of Mexico's nineteenth century wars who served as president of Mexico from 15 January 1851 to 6 January 1853....

 who had it constructed in 1850. The area next to this door used to be the old Court Prison, with courtrooms and torture chambers. It is now occupied by the Finance Ministry. It contains the Treasury Room, constructed by architects Manuel Ortiz Monasterio and Vicente Mendiola. The iron and bronze door is the work of Augusto Petriccioli.

Above the central doorway, facing the Zócalo, is the main balcony where just before 11pm on September 15, the president of Mexico gives the Grito de Dolores
Grito de Dolores
The Grito de Dolores also known as El Grito de la Independencia , uttered from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato on April 19, 1810 is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is the most important national holiday observed in Mexico...

, in a ceremony to commemorate Mexican Independence
Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought...

. Part of this ceremony includes ringing the bell that hangs above the balcony. This bell is the original one that Father Miguel Hidalgo rang to call for rebellion against Spain. It originally hung in the church of Dolores Hidalgo
Dolores Hidalgo
Dolores Hidalgo Dolores Hidalgo Dolores Hidalgo (in full, Dolores Hidalgo Cuna de la Independencia Nacional is the name of a city and the surrounding municipality in the north-central part of the Mexican state of Guanajuato....

, Guanajuato
Guanajuato officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Guanajuato is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 46 municipalities and its capital city is Guanajuato....

, but was relocated here. In the niche containing the bell, there is the Mexican coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

. On each side there is an Aztec eagle knight
Eagle warrior
Eagle warriors or eagle knights were a special class of infantry soldier in the Aztec army, one of the two leading military orders in Aztec society. These military orders were made up of the bravest soldiers of noble birth and those who had taken the greatest number of prisoners in battle. Of...

 and his Spanish counterpart. These were sculpted by Manuel Centurion and symbolize the synthesis of Mexican culture and Spanish culture.

The central door leads to the main patio which is surrounded by Baroque
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 arches. Only the balustrade of this area has been remodeled, conserving the mural
A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. A particularly distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture.-History:Murals of...

s by Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera
Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez was a prominent Mexican painter born in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, an active communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo . His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in...

 that adorn the main stairwell and the walls of the second floor. In the stairwell is a mural depicting the history of Mexico
History of Mexico
The history of Mexico, a country located in the southern portion of North America, covers a period of more than two millennia. First populated more than 13,000 years ago, the country produced complex indigenous civilizations before being conquered by the Spanish in the 16th Century.Since the...

 from 1521 to 1930, and covers an area of 450 m2 (4800 ft2). These murals were painted between 1929 and 1935, jointly titled "The Epic of the Mexican People". The work is divided like a triptych
A triptych , from tri-= "three" + ptysso= "to fold") is a work of art which is divided into three sections, or three carved panels which are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. It is therefore a type of polyptych, the term for all multi-panel works...

 with each being somewhat autonomous. The right-hand wall contains murals depicting pre-Hispanic Mexico and centers around the life of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl is a Mesoamerican deity whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and has the meaning of "feathered serpent". The worship of a feathered serpent deity is first documented in Teotihuacan in the first century BCE or first century CE...

. Quetzalcóatl appears in the mural as a star, a god, and a human being. Created by serpents, he sails through space as a star that accompanies the sun at night. Quetzalcóatl then assumes a human body to teach the Aztec people as their king and patriarch. Last, when he sacrifices his blood to give life to men, he returns to the sky having completed his earthly cycle. Once he leaves the earth, Quetzalcóatl assumes the shape the morning star, called Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli
In Aztec religion, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is the god of the planet Venus, the morning star. Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli was considered a dangerous and malevolent god, and was associated with Quetzalcoatl.-Myths:...

. The cycle that he undergoes signifies the continuous cycle of life. Rivera's creation of a Mexican identity helps to continue the reform that began with the Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

 of 1910. Before this time, any individualism from the Indians was discouraged as well as any allusion toward Aztec origins. The mural aims to dismiss any idea of inferiority.

In the middle and largest panel, the Conquest is depicted with its ugliness, such as rape and torture, as well as priests defending the rights of the indigenous people. The battle for independence occupies the uppermost part of this panel in the arch. The American
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

 and French invasions
French intervention in Mexico
The French intervention in Mexico , also known as The Maximilian Affair, War of the French Intervention, and The Franco-Mexican War, was an invasion of Mexico by an expeditionary force sent by the Second French Empire, supported in the beginning by the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain...

 are represented below this, as well as the Reform period
La Reforma
La Reforma was a period halfway through the 19th century in the history of Mexico that was characterized by liberal reforms and the transformation of Mexico into a nation state...

 and the Revolution. The left-hand panel is dedicated to early and mid-20th century, criticizing the status quo and depicting a Marxist kind of utopia, featuring the persons of Plutarco Elías Calles
Plutarco Elías Calles
Plutarco Elías Calles was a Mexican general and politician. He was president of Mexico from 1924 to 1928, but he continued to be the de facto ruler from 1928–1935, a period known as the maximato...

, John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller
John Davison Rockefeller was an American oil industrialist, investor, and philanthropist. He was the founder of the Standard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry and defined the structure of...

, Harry Sinclair
Harry Sinclair
Harry Sinclair is a film director, writer, and actor. In his early career he was an actor and member of The Front Lawn, a musical theater duo. He went on to write and direct several short films, a TV series and three feature films.-Background:...

, William Durant
William Durant
William Durant is the name of:* Will Durant , historian and philosopher* William C. Durant , industrialist and founder of General Motors Corporation...

, J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt , also known by the sobriquet Commodore, was an American entrepreneur who built his wealth in shipping and railroads. He was also the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family and one of the richest Americans in history...

 and Andrew Mellon as well as Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

. This part of the mural also includes Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican painter, born in Coyoacán, and perhaps best known for her self-portraits....

, Diego's wife. This mural reflects Diego's own personal views about Mexico's history and the indigenous people of the country in particular.

Diego also painted 11 panels on the middle floor, such as the "Tianguis of Tlatelolco" (tianguis means "market"), and the "Arrival of Hernán Cortés in Veracruz". These are part of a series depicting the pre-Hispanic era. Peoples such as the Tarascos of Michoacán
Michoacán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Michoacán de Ocampo is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 113 municipalities and its capital city is Morelia...

, the Zapotecs and Mixtecs of Oaxaca
Oaxaca , , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Oaxaca is one of the 31 states which, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided into 571 municipalities; of which 418 are governed by the system of customs and traditions...

 and the Huastecs of Hidalgo, San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí officially Estado Libre y Soberano de San Luis Potosí is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is San Luis Potosí....

 and Veracruz
Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...

. However, this series was not finished.

On the upper floor is what once was the Theatre Room of the viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

s, which became the Chamber of Deputies from 1829 to August 22, 1872, when the room was accidentally destroyed by fire. In this parliamentary chamber the Reform
La Reforma
La Reforma was a period halfway through the 19th century in the history of Mexico that was characterized by liberal reforms and the transformation of Mexico into a nation state...

 Constitution of 1857 was written. This and the Constitution of 1917 are on display.

The Palace has fourteen courtyards but only a few of these, such as the Grand Courtyard beyond the central portal, are open to the public. The National Palace also houses the main State Archives, with many interesting historical documents, and the Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada
Miguel Lerdo de Tejada
Miguel Lerdo de Tejada was a Mexican statesman, and a leader of the Revolution of Ayutla.Born in the port of Veracruz, Veracruz, both he and his younger brother, Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, became leaders of Mexico's Liberal Party...

one of the largest and most important libraries in the country.

On north annex of the building is the Treasury Room and the Benito Juárez Museum. Between the two is the Empress Stairway, built by brothers Juan and Ramón Agea. When faced with claims that their work was unstable and would collapse, they had a full battalion charge down them while they stood underneath. The Treasury Room is no longer in use. Leading to the Museum part of the complex, which used to be the Finance Ministry, is a statue of Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

 by Miguel Noreña. This work was criticized at the time because it was felt that such an honored person should not be depicted sitting on his coattails, as it was contrary to social etiquette at the time. In the Finance Ministry patio is the Benito Juárez Room, where this president lived during the end of his term and where he died on July 18, 1872. The bedroom, living room and study have been preserved complete with a number of objects belonging to the president.

Moctezuma's "New Houses"

The site and much of the building material of the current building is of what were called Moctezuma II's "New Houses". This palace functioned as the Aztec tlatoani's residence and performed a number of official functions as well. The building was divided into two sections and decorated with marble and painted stucco
Stucco or render is a material made of an aggregate, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. It is used as decorative coating for walls and ceilings and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture...

. The main façade contained the shield of the monarchy, an eagle
Eagles are members of the bird family Accipitridae, and belong to several genera which are not necessarily closely related to each other. Most of the more than 60 species occur in Eurasia and Africa. Outside this area, just two species can be found in the United States and Canada, nine more in...

 with a snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

 in its claws. It has three patios surrounded by portico
A portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls...

s, indoor sanitary facilities, fountains and gardens. The bedrooms had tapestries of cotton, feathers and rabbit fur painted in bright colors. The floors were of polished stucco and covered in animal furs and finely-woven mats. There were rooms for servants, administrative staff, and military guards, along with kitchens, pantries and storage rooms. The richness of the palace surprised Cortés, which he relayed in letters to Charles V of Spain
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...


The palace also held a chamber reserved for the "tlacxitlan" where a group of elders, presided over by the emperor himself, would settle disputes among the citizenry. After the Conquest, these New Houses were not completely leveled to the ground but were sufficiently destroyed as to make them uninhabitable.

Cortés' palace

The land and the buildings on it were claimed by Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 having architects Rodrigo de Pontocillos and Juan Rodríguez
Juan Rodríguez
Juan Rodríguez may refer to:* Juan Rodríguez de la Cámara del Padrón , Spanish writer* Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca , Spanish religious leader & government administrator...

, rebuild the palace, while Cortés lived in the "Old Houses" (now the Nacional Monte de Piedad
Nacional Monte de Piedad
The Nacional Monte de Piedad is a not-for-profit- institution and pawnshop whose main office is located just off the Zócalo, or main plaza of Mexico City. It was established between 1774 and 1777 by Pedro Romero de Terreros as part of a movement to provide interest-free or low-interest loans to...

 building) across the plaza from 1521 to 1530.

Cortés's palace was a massive fortress with embrasure
In military architecture, an embrasure is the opening in a crenellation or battlement between the two raised solid portions or merlons, sometimes called a crenel or crenelle...

s for cannon at the corners and the mezzanine
Mezzanine (architecture)
In architecture, a mezzanine or entresol is an intermediate floor between main floors of a building, and therefore typically not counted among the overall floors of a building. Often, a mezzanine is low-ceilinged and projects in the form of a balcony. The term is also used for the lowest balcony in...

 had crenels for musketeer
A musketeer was an early modern type of infantry soldier equipped with a musket. Musketeers were an important part of early modern armies, particularly in Europe. They sometimes could fight on horseback, like a dragoon or a cavalryman...

s. The façade had only two doors with arches (medio punto. Inside there were two patios, with a third being built after 1554 and a fourth sometime after that. Its garden was extensive, occupying much of the south and southwest portions of the property up to what is now Correo Mayor Street. The palace has living quarters, offices, two audience rooms, and a tower for gunpowder. A secondary building behind the main one has nineteen windows spanning its façade. It also had a parapet
A parapet is a wall-like barrier at the edge of a roof, terrace, balcony or other structure. Where extending above a roof, it may simply be the portion of an exterior wall that continues above the line of the roof surface, or may be a continuation of a vertical feature beneath the roof such as a...

, above which was a clock and a bell. The main courtyard was built large enough so he could entertain visitors with New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

's first recorded bullfights.

The Spanish crown bought the palace from the Cortés family in 1562 to house the Viceregal Palace. It remained so until Mexican Independence in the 1820s.

Viceroy palace

In 1562, the Spanish Crown bought the palace and land from Martin Cortés
Martín Cortés
Martín Cortés may refer to:* Martín Cortés de Albacar, Spanish cosmographer* Martín Cortés * Martín Cortés, 2nd Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca...

, son of Hernan Cortés, retaining much of the Cortés palace features.
Due to tensions between the viceroy and the archbishop, the palace was set on fire by supporters of the archbishop in 1624. On 8 June 1692, the palace was almost completely destroyed. Viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

 Gaspar de Sandoval then had Friar Diego Valverde reconstruct the palace. Historian Manuel Rivera Cambas states that after reconstruction, the palace lost its fortress-like appearance, and took on a Baroque appearance. Its crenels were converted into windows with ironwork grille
A grille or grill is an opening of several slits side by side in a wall or metal sheet or other barrier, usually to let air or water enter and/or leave but keep larger objects including people and animals in or out.-Spelling:In the United States, "grille" is used to differentiate the automotive...

s. framed in stonework. Inscriptions were etched above these windows and coats-of-arms were places to the sides. A smaller, third door was added on the north side of the building. On the inner, secondary building, tall windows with small ironwork balconies were installed. The south door led to what was named the "Patio of Honor"; in this section were the viceroy's quarters. The mezzanine held the offices of the Secretary and the Archives of the Viceroyalty aka miss plandran. The lower part has servants' and halberdiers' quarters as well as storage bins for mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...

. This Patio of Honor opened in back toward a garden for the use of the viceroy and his court. This later became the Royal Botanical Garden in the 18th century.

The main patio in the central part of the building had arches around it supported by tall, thick Baroque columns. Through this patio was access to the Audience Hall, the tax collection room, the consulate, the office of mining regulation, the General Treasury, the Royal Chapel and the Throne Room.

The north door led to a small patio in which was located the jail and the guards' quarters. The palace essentially remained unchanged until after independence in the 1830s.

After independence

Many of Mexico's leaders after independence made changes to the Viceroy Palace, including renaming it the "National Palace". Mexico's first ministries were installed such as the Ministry of Hacienda (internal revenue), Ministry of War, Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Internal and External Relations, as well as the Supreme Court. During an uprising led by Valentín Gómez Farías
Valentín Gómez Farías
Valentín Gómez Farías was several times acting President of Mexico in the 1830s and 1840s.Gomez Farias was one of the more important political figures in early Mexico. The first presidency of Santa Anna from 1833 to 1836 was a temporary victory for the Mexican Liberals...

 against then-president Anastasio Bustamante
Anastasio Bustamante
Anastasio Bustamante y Oseguera was president of Mexico three times, from 1830 to 1832, from 1837 to 1839 and from 1839 to 1841. He was a Conservative. He first came to power by leading a coup against president Vicente Guerrero...

, the southwest balustrade was seriously damaged during a siege lasting twelve days. In 1845, the old Chambers of Deputies was constructed, with the Senate on the upper floor of the south wing. In 1850, Mariano Arista had the old north prison door cemented shut and constructed the current northern door. He also converted the north wing into barracks of the "Batallón de Guardia de Supremos Poderes" (Battalion of Guards for the Supreme Powers). In 1864, Maximilian of Habsburg
Maximilian I of Mexico
Maximilian I was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire.After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy, he was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico on April 10, 1864, with the backing of Napoleon III of France and a group of Mexican monarchists who sought to revive the Mexican monarchy...

 had three flagpoles installed in front of the three main doors. By the central door was the Mexican flag; at the north door was the flag of Austria
Flag of Austria
The flag of Austria has three equal horizontal bands of red , white, and red.The Austrian triband is the second-oldest flag in use at least since 1230, after the Danish flag .- Origins :...

 and at the south door was the flag of France
Flag of France
The national flag of France is a tricolour featuring three vertical bands coloured royal blue , white, and red...

. He also had Lorenzo de la Hidalga construct the grand marble staircase that is in the Patio of Honor in the southern wing, as well as having the public rooms roofed and furnished with paintings, candelabra
"Candelabra" is the traditional term for a set of multiple decorative candlesticks, each of which often holds a candle on each of multiple arms or branches connected to a column or pedestal...

s, and chamber pot
Chamber pot
A chamber pot is a bowl-shaped container with a handle, and often a lid, kept in the bedroom under a bed or in the cabinet of a nightstand and...

s from Hollenbach
Hollenbach is a municipality in the district of Aichach-Friedberg in Bavaria in Germany. It has about 2400 inhabitants.-Partner cities: Contest, France, since 1991 ...

, Austria and Sirres, France. In opposition, Benito Juárez chose to have his quarters in the north end of the Palace, rather than in the traditional southern end.

In 1877, the Secretaría de Hacienda y Credito Público (Secretary of Internal Revenue and Public Credit), José Ives Limantour, as part of his overhaul of the department, moved their offices to the north wing, finishing in 1902. He chose the largest room in the wing for the Office of Seals. In 1896, the bell that Father Hidalgo rung at the parish of Dolores, Guanajuato was moved here.

A number of changes were made during the rule of Porfirio Díaz
Porfirio Díaz
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican-American War volunteer and French intervention hero, an accomplished general and the President of Mexico continuously from 1876 to 1911, with the exception of a brief term in 1876 when he left Juan N...

. The English-made clock on the parapet was moved to tower of the Church of Santo Domingo. The façade was cemented over and etched to look like stone block. Cloth awnings were placed on the windows of the upper floors. On pedestals near the main door, statues of female forms were placed. Inside, the ambassador's room, the dining room, the kitchens, the lounge, the garages and the stables were all refurnished. This was done at a time when French style was popular in Mexico.

Between 1926 and 1929, the third floor was added during the term of President Plutarco Elías Calles by Alberto J. Pani, an engineer and then finance minister and designed by Augusto Petriccioli. Merlon
In architecture, a merlon forms the solid part of an embattled parapet, sometimes pierced by embrasures. The space between two merlons is usually called a crenel, although those later designed and used for cannons were called embrasures.-Etymology:...

s were placed on the towers and parapet and decorative caps were placed on all three doors. The Dolores Bell was placed in a niche flanked by atlantes above the balcony above the central door. The façade was covered with red tezontle stone and installed stone frames on the doors, windows, cornice
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.The function of the projecting...

s, and parapets. In the interior, a grand staircase of marble was installed in the central patio (where Diego Rivera would later paint his murals) and constructed stairs to the internal revenue department and the offices of the General Treasury in the north wing. The old Chamber of Deputies, abandoned after a fire in 1872, was reconstructed and re-inaugurated as a museum to the centennial. A statue of Benito Juárez was placed in the north wing near his old quarters. This statue was made with bronze from the cannons of the Conservative Army during the Reform War
Reform War
The Reform War in Mexico is one of the episodes of the long struggle between Liberal and Conservative forces that dominated the country’s history in the 19th century. The Liberals wanted a federalist government, limiting traditional Catholic Church and military influence in the country...

 and from French projectiles from the Battle of Puebla
Battle of Puebla
The Battle of Puebla took place on 5 May 1862 near the city of Puebla during the French intervention in Mexico. The battle ended in a victory for the Mexican Army over the occupying French forces...

. This caused the Palace to lose its Baroque (and French) appearance and give it the appearance it has today.

Palace as presidential residence

All the viceroys that ruled New Spain during the colonial period lived in this residence except for Antonio de Mendoza
Antonio de Mendoza
Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, Marquis of Mondéjar, Count of Tendilla , was the first viceroy of New Spain, serving from April 17, 1535 to November 25, 1550, and the second viceroy of Peru, from September 23, 1551 to July 21, 1552...

 and Juan O’Donojú, which interestingly enough, were the first and last viceroys. . After independence, the palace was home to the two emperors who ruled Mexico during brief periods: Agustin de Iturbide
Agustín de Iturbide
Agustín Cosme Damián de Iturbide y Aramburu , also known as Augustine I of Mexico, was a Mexican army general who built a successful political and military coalition that was able to march into Mexico City on 27 September 1821, decisively ending the Mexican War of Independence...

 and Maximilian I of Mexico
Maximilian I of Mexico
Maximilian I was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire.After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy, he was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico on April 10, 1864, with the backing of Napoleon III of France and a group of Mexican monarchists who sought to revive the Mexican monarchy...

. The first president to live in the building was also Mexico's first president, Guadalupe Victoria
Guadalupe Victoria
Guadalupe Victoria born José Miguel Ramón Adaucto Fernández y Félix, was a Mexican politician and military man who fought for independence against the Spanish Empire in the Mexican War of Independence. He was a deputy for Durango and a member of the Supreme Executive Power...

, and its last occupant was Manuel González, president from 1880 to 1884. The current presidential residence is Los Pinos
Los Pinos
Los Pinos is the official residence and office of the President of Mexico. Located in the Bosque de Chapultepec in central Mexico City, it became the presidential seat in 1934, when Gen...

. Famous people who stayed here include Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mateo Alemán
Mateo Alemán
Mateo Alemán y de Enero was a Spanish novelist and writer.He graduated at Seville University in 1564, studied later at Salamanca and Alcalá, and from 1571 to 1588 held a post in the treasury; in 1594 he was arrested on suspicion of malversation, but was speedily released...

, Friar Servando de Mier
Servando Teresa de Mier
Fray Servando Teresa de Mier was a Roman Catholic priest and a preacher and politician in New Spain....

 (he also died here), Alexander von Humboldt
Alexander von Humboldt
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt was a German naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt...

 and Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...


Archeological work

Because of work related to the construction of Metro Line 2
Mexico City Metro Line 2
Mexico City Metro Line 2 is one of the 11 lines of the Mexico City Metro.Line 2 is the second of the network, the color that identifies it is blue and it runs from west to east and north to south, turning at the city center...

 and the acceleration of the sinking of many of the buildings in the historic center, the basic structure of the Palace suffered deterioration, requiring work to secure the building's foundation and supports, esp. on the third floor, the central patio and the Patio of Honor. During this work, the old column bases of the Viceroy Palace were found, two of which were restored where they were found. They also found old cedar
Cedar wood
Cedar wood comes from several different trees that grow in different parts of the world, and may have different uses.* California incense-cedar, from Calocedrus decurrens, is the primary type of wood used for making pencils...

 rafters with their brackets, which were used to form the foundation of the first floor.

Recently, excavations in and next to the National Palace have unearthed parts of Moctezuma
Moctezuma II
Moctezuma , also known by a number of variant spellings including Montezuma, Moteuczoma, Motecuhzoma and referred to in full by early Nahuatl texts as Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin, was the ninth tlatoani or ruler of Tenochtitlan, reigning from 1502 to 1520...

's "New Houses", the name of the palaces that Hernán Cortés razed to build what has become the current edifice. Parts of a wall and a basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

 floor were found during recent renovations on the building that now houses the Museum of Culture, which adjoins the Palace on its north side. The wall and floor are believed to be part of Casa Denegrida, or the Black House, which Spanish conquerors described as a windowless room painted in black. In here, Moctezuma would meditate on what he was told by professional seers
The term clairvoyance is used to refer to the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through means other than the known human senses, a form of extra-sensory perception...

 and shamans. It was part of a construction which is thought to have consisted of five interconnected buildings containing the emperor's office, chambers for children and several wives and even a zoo. More excavations are planned.

The building's significance

The webpage of past president Ernesto Zedillo
Ernesto Zedillo
Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León is a Mexican economist and politician. He served as President of Mexico from December 1, 1994 to November 30, 2000, as the last of the uninterrupted seventy year line of Mexican presidents from the Institutional Revolutionary Party...

, Carlos Fuentes
Carlos Fuentes
Carlos Fuentes Macías is a Mexican writer and one of the best-known living novelists and essayists in the Spanish-speaking world. He has influenced contemporary Latin American literature, and his works have been widely translated into English and other languages.-Biography:Fuentes was born in...

 calls the National Palace a "traveling and an immobile construction". Traveling is used in the sense that much of its architectural style is Spanish in origin and symbolized the transplanting of Spanish civilization to the New World. It is immobile in the sense that since Aztec times, this has been the seat of earthly political power, first as the palaces of the Aztec tlatoani
Tlatoani is the Nahuatl term for the ruler of an altepetl, a pre-Hispanic state. The word literally means "speaker", but may be translated into English as "king". A is a female ruler, or queen regnant....

, then of the Spanish viceroys, then of Mexican heads of state. Only until very recently, those who held power over Mexico lived here as well as asserted their authority.

The building itself represents the Mexican people as a blending of both Spanish and Aztec. The old palace was destroyed to make way for the new, but both were built of the very same stone. According to Zedillo, this represents something that is not quite Aztec, but not quite Spanish either, much like the country itself. These same stones were present during all of Mexico's major historical events and had seen foreign flags fly above them.

On the eve of Mexican Independence Day, the National Palace is the star of the show. The original bell Father Hidalgo rang is here and the President himself gives the Grito de Dolores
Grito de Dolores
The Grito de Dolores also known as El Grito de la Independencia , uttered from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato on April 19, 1810 is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is the most important national holiday observed in Mexico...

 from its main balcony. He also notes one such Independence Eve, in 1964, when General Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

, then-President of France, spoke to the crowd in Spanish from the Palace. He notes this to assert that the Palace is not only a place but also a destination where friends of the country can be welcomed.


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