A visible reminder of Mexico’s bygone aristocracy, the ‘castle’ that stands atop Chapultepec Hill was begun in 1785 but not completed until after independence, when it became the national military academy. When Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota arrived in 1864, they refurbished it as their residence. The east end of the castle preserves their palace, with sumptuously furnished salons opening onto an exterior deck that affords panoramic city views – the highlight for many visitors.
The castle sheltered Mexico’s presidents until 1939 when President Lázaro Cárdenas converted it into the Museo Nacional de Historia.
On the upper floor, the opulent rooms are the work of Porfirio Díaz, who in the late 19th century was the first president to use the castle as residences. In the center is a patio where a tower marks the top of Chapultepec Hill, 45m above street level.
To reach the castle, follow the road that curves up the hill behind the Monumento a los Niños Héroes. Alternatively, a trainlike vehicle (M$25 round-trip) runs up every 15 minutes when the castle is open. You are free to walk to the entrance at the top but to enter, and for the views, you need to buy a ticket. Audioguides in English are available for M$75. No entry with water bottles or food but there are lockers.