Palacio Nacional

sights / Architecture

Lonely Planet review

Home to the offices of the president of Mexico, the Federal Treasury and dramatic murals by Diego Rivera, this palace fills the entire east side of the Zócalo.

The first palace on this spot was built by Aztec emperor Moctezuma II in the early 16th century. Cortés destroyed the palace in 1521, rebuilding it as a fortress with three interior courtyards. In 1562 the crown purchased the building from Cortés’ family to house the viceroys of Nueva España, a function it served until Mexican independence.

As you face the palace, high above the center door hangs the Campana de Dolores , the bell rung in the town of Dolores Hidalgo by Padre Miguel Hidalgo in 1810 at the start of the War of Independence. From the balcony underneath it, the president delivers the grito (shout) – ¡Viva México! – on September 15 to commemorate independence.

Inside you’ll see Diego Rivera murals along the main staircase (painted between 1929 and 1935) that depict Mexican civilization from the arrival of Quetzalcóatl (the Aztec plumed serpent god) to the postrevolutionary period. The nine murals covering the north and east walls of the first level above the patio chronicle indigenous life before the Spanish conquest.

The visitors’ entrance is on Calle Moneda.