On 6th of july 1923, about 400 years after the destruction of Tenochtitlan, the construction of the Chapultepec Zoo began. For Mexicans, opening a zoological garden does have double significance, as zoos find there place in pre-hispanic Aztec history as well as they open a new door to education and getting to know how to respect mother nature.
The zoo counts with over 2000 animals of 200 species, divided into birds, mammals, amfibios amd reptiles.
The place in the woods of Chapultepec was chosen. Chapultepec means "Hill of the Grasshoppers" in nahuatl, the Aztec language of Mexico.
Many people believe that the Lago de Chapultepec is what remains of old Lago de Texcoco because Chapultepec lies on what used to be its shores, but in fact, this is an artificial lake. It was excavated in early 20th century as part of the remodeling ordered by President Porfirio Diaz. Boats have been available for hire since that time. During the months of February, March and April Swan Lake ballet has been performed on an island of this lake by the National Dance Company for the past 25 years.
There is nothing like spending a day in Chapultepec Park and the nearby museums: Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Museo de Arte Moderno, and Museo de Rufino Tamayo. The park is a nice safe-heaven from the stress of the city. The Monumento a los Niños Heroes was closed, but as a good Mexican, I entered through the side ;). "Los Niños Heroes" were a group of young military cadets that opted to jump off the roof rather then surrendering to the French Army in the 1800's. It's says that one of them jumped up high, pulled the Mexican flag, and rolled himself on it as he fell to his death on the ground below. It was certainly a heroic nationalistic effort. Anyway, on top of the hill is the infamous "Castillo de Chapultepec." It is clearly influenced by European architecture, which makes for a unique visit.
This massive park is Mexico City's equivalent to New York's Central Park. You can spend hours just strolling around the place and observe the Mexican enjoying the city with their families. It's better to visit this place during the weekend, especially on a Sunday when a few are in the Sunday best.
Begun in 1785 atop a 200-foot-high hill in the center of Chapultepec park, it was originally used as a weekend retreat for Spanish viceroys. Upon completion in 1841, it became a military academy. It later served as the home of Maximiliano de Asburgo who, supported by the French army, was emperor of Mexico in the 1860s; after the restoration of the Republic, the castle was the residence of Mexican presidents until 1940. At present day the castle is divided in two sections: one houses the National Museum of History (wich boasts eye-catching displays, artifacts, and murals by famed Mexican painters). The other section is the Alcazar which was the portion of the castle used for habitational purposes; this area takes you back to XIXth century as it has preserved its original spaces; it also has an interesting view of the Reforma boulevard and surrounding neighborhoods.
Visit the Castle of Chapultepec, the National Historical Museum. The tradition of Chapultepec Castle as a residence for Mexican rulers dates back to the 14th Century when Nezahualcoyotl, the King of Texcoco, ordered a palace to built at the foot of the hill. Following the Spanish Conquest, Hernan Cortez took possession of Chapultepec as part of his spoils and it subsequently served as a hunting preserve for the Viceroy de Velasco. A French invasion altered the landscape of Chapultepec as the construction of the Imperial Palace of Maximilian von Hapsburg and the layout of a majestic avenue to connect the Castle with Mexico City went started. Plans were prepare in France to add a second floor to the principal facade of the main building, including the Fortress, and renovations went completed to convert the Castle into a regal residential palace. The Golden Age of the Castle came, however, during the government of Porfirio Diaz. The General, who, ironically, had liberated the city from the conservative forces of the Second Empire, managed to imbue Chapultepec with the ostentatious lifestyle that Maximilian and Carlotta had yearned for, and which included decorating its interior in extravagant European luxury. It was here that President Diaz had his noteworthy meeting with Creelman, the American journalist, which left the heavy ironwork doors ajar to the Revolutionary surge of 1910. In 1944, the National History Museum established in the Castle, and now you can see here the most important documents and memorabilia covering Mexico’s history from the Conquest until the Revolutionary period. You can also visit the presidential chambers in the Fortress, and a magnificent panorama of Mexico City can be see from the terraces.
More pictures and info you can find in my National Historical Museum travelogue…
Zoológico de Chapultepec.
This zoo is practically the heart of the old forest of Chapultepec, because it has delighted to a good number of generations since Aztec Emperor Moctezuma before the Spanish conquest.
The zoo takes the name of the biologist Alfonso L. Herrera who had the initiative of his modern creation and its construction began in 1923 from a model inspired by the Rome zoo.
A few years ago the zoo has undergone a long-awaited landscaping, many people worked in it to provide a more natural and worthy habitat to the animals.
At the moment it exhibits around 200 species and near 2,000 animals and the enclosures are now as modern as anywhere in the world.
The zoo boasts the first panda born in captivity in the world and retains the distinction of being the only place outside China to have successfully born and bred Giant Pandas (at least naturally, several others now have test-tube pandas).
Fuente de Tláloc.
Just a really beautiful fountain.
It was designed and supervised in its construction (1952) by the painter Diego Rivera, after concluding 'El agua, origen de la vida' (The water, origin of the life).
The fountain consists of a bas-relief in mosaic tiles of natural colored stones, that represent Tláloc (Aztec rain and water god) leaving waters.
The best point to appreciate its beauty is being placed to ten meters height or more.
How do that?
I want to kwow too...
There are other fountains, constructed after the one of Tláloc and inaugurated latter, in 1964, on the perimeter of the tanks of water storage of the Lerma system, and well-known like 'Fuentes de las Serpientes' (Fountains of the serpents), because of its serpents shapes.
These 'serpents' are the ventilation chimneys of four great cisterns in which originating potable water of the same system was stored.
For hundreds of years Chapultepec has been a focal point in this city of such tremendous population growth that an airy expanse of green is very good to see
This beautiful park supplies a vital area of green in this polluted city. It is surrounded by a centuries-old forest and hosted numerous activities. It includes the Castilo de Chapultepec and the National Historical museum near its summit, important cultural centers including world-class museums (as the Museum of Anthropology), amusement parks, a zoo and lakes, and is crisscrossed by access routes. These routes are most used by hordes of visitors and vendors.
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