Palace Bellas Artes

Getty Images

Palacio de Bellas Artes

Top choice in Alameda Central

Immense murals by world-famous Mexican artists dominate the top floors of this splendid white-marble palace – a concert hall and arts center commissioned by President Porfirio Díaz.


Construction on the iconic building began in 1905 under Italian architect Adamo Boari, who favored neoclassical and art nouveau styles. Complications arose as the heavy marble shell sank into the spongy subsoil, and then the Mexican Revolution intervened. Architect Federico Mariscal eventually finished the interior in the 1930s, utilizing the more modern art deco style. With art nouveau on the outside and art deco on the inside, the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) is considered one of the most spectacular buildings from this era.


On the 2nd floor are two early 1950s works by Zapotec-heritage painter Rufino Tamayo: México de hoy (Mexico Today) and Nacimiento de la nacionalidad (Birth of Nationality), a symbolic depiction of the creation of the mestizo (mixed ancestry) identity.

At the west end of the 3rd floor is Diego Rivera’s famous El hombre en el cruce de caminos (Man at the Crossroads), originally commissioned for New York’s Rockefeller Center. The Rockefellers had the original destroyed because of its anti-capitalist themes, but Rivera re-created it here in 1934.

On the north side are David Alfaro Siqueiros’ three-part La nueva democracia (New Democracy) and Rivera’s four-part Carnaval de la vida mexicana (Carnival of Mexican Life). To the east is José Clemente Orozco’s La katharsis (Catharsis), depicting the conflict between humankind’s ‘social’ and ‘natural’ aspects.

The 4th-floor Museo Nacional de Arquitectura features changing exhibits on contemporary architecture. In addition, the palace stages outstanding temporary art exhibitions.

Bellas Artes Theater

The renovated Bellas Artes theater is itself a masterpiece (though only viewable during performances), with a stained-glass curtain depicting the Valle de México. Based on a design by Mexican painter Gerardo Murillo (aka Dr Atl), it was assembled by New York jeweler Tiffany & Co from almost a million pieces of colored glass. The theater is the stage for seasonal opera and symphony performances and the Ballet Folklórico de México.

Tickets and information

Admission is M$75 per adult and free for those under 13 or with a disability. Entry is free on Sundays for both foreigners and Mexican nationals. It's not possible to book online in advance or reserve tickets – they must be purchased on the day from the museum ticket office. 

There are lofty views of the Palacio from the cafe terrace of the Sears building across the road.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Alameda Central attractions

1. Museo Nacional de Arquitectura

0.02 MILES

A museum within the Palacio de Bellas Artes that features changing exhibits on contemporary architecture and retrospectives such as the buildings of the…

2. Palacio Postal

0.06 MILES

More than just Mexico City’s central post office, this golden palace built in 1907 is an Italianate confection designed by the Palacio de Bellas Artes’…

3. Postal Museum

0.06 MILES

Philatelists can ogle a design of Mexico's first stamp and other relics in the 1st-floor postal museum at Mexico City's main post office.

4. Palacio de Minería

0.11 MILES

The Palacio de Minería was where mining engineers trained in the 19th century. A neoclassical masterpiece, the palace was designed by Tolsá and built…

5. Casa de los Azulejos

0.11 MILES

Past the pedestrian corridor Gante stands the amazing Casa de los Azulejos. Dating from 1596, it was built for the Condes (Counts) del Valle de Orizaba…

6. Torre Latinoamericana

0.12 MILES

The Torre Latinoamericana was Latin America’s tallest building when constructed in 1956, and remains the dominant focal point of Centro Histórico. It's an…

7. Plaza Tolsá

0.12 MILES

Several blocks west of the Zócalo near Alameda Central is this handsome square, named after Manuel Tolsá, the illustrious late-18th-century sculptor and…

8. Museo Nacional de la Estampa

0.13 MILES

Devoted to the graphic arts, this museum has thematic exhibits, such as Zapata through contemporary images, from its collection of more than 12,000 prints…