Learn about centuries of Mexican history and marvel at a remarkable collection of murals by Diego Rivera at Mexico City’s national palace.
Step inside Mexico City’s Palacio Nacional (National Palace) to discover over five centuries of national history. Admire grand colonial architecture, explore courtyards, spot work by revered Mexican artists and peek inside presidential offices. This site was originally the 16th-century Aztec residence of Moctezuma II and was later the palace of Hernán Cortez and then the home of the Spanish viceroys. It became the Palacio Nacional in the 1800s and is today the seat of the federal government.
Stand back from the building’s main entrance to appreciate its grandiose façade, flanked by two imposing towers. Above the main door is the Campana de Dolores, the bell rung by Padre Miguel Hidalgo to proclaim Mexico’s liberation from Spanish rule in 1810. Visit at 11 p.m. on September 15th to watch the president ring the bell and signal the start of annual independence celebrations.
Walk through the Baroque-style doorway to the palace’s main courtyard, characterized by a three-tiered arcade and Renaissance columns. Inspect the central fountain, crowned by an elegant bronze statue of Pegasus.
Take the stairs to the courtyard’s second floor to see the magnificent murals by Diego Rivera. Painted over a period of 22 years, they portray significant Mexican events from the Aztec era to the early 20th century. Peak inside the palace’s rooms to see period furniture, colonial decorations and objets d’art.
Find the palace on the east side of the Zócola, Mexico City’s main public square and the heart of its historic city center. Public buses, the metro and a hop-on, hop-off tourist bus all stop close to the palace. Visit nearby attractions, such as the 16th-century Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México (Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral) and the ancient Aztec ruins of the Museo del Templo Mayor (Great Temple Museum).
The Palacio Nacional is open daily, although it may close without notice for government events. Admission is free and you’ll need to present a form of photo identification to enter. Unofficial English-speaking guides are available and can provide insightful information about the palace and its history. Guide prices are negotiable, so be prepared to bargain.