I knew before my first trip that I would fall in love with Mexico City. It’s one of those transforming cities you can imagine coming back to time and again, yet discover a new feeling welling up every time. On my second trip I visit some old haunts and some of the many spots I hadn’t been to – including Chapultepec Castle, a landmark not to be missed.
We love Castillo de Chapultepec because, first of all, it’s a freakin’ castle. Not only that, but it is the only castle in all of North America to have ever actually housed royalty. Soak up them royal vibes, my friend!
With views from the top of a hill in Chapultepec (“grasshopper”) Park overlooking the fine Distrito Federal, the castle is palatial in scope and design reminiscent of European castles.
In this case, the Spanish colonialists brought the influence to Mexico City hundreds of years ago.
I walk around this great city seeing constant reminders of the clash of ancient Aztec culture with that of Spanish colonialism. Indeed, this castle sits on Aztec holy ground. Many centuries of different cultures inform today’s Mexico, whose vibrant culture is unique unto itself.
I amble through the aerial gardens built into the rooftop of Chapultepec. Despite being the site of wars and struggle for independence, it’s a peaceful place to meditate today.
There are spots that seem familiar throughout the grounds, and I realize some of the scenes from Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet movie (with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes) were shot here.
And don’t forget the art. Diego Rivera represents the people in wall frescos as does Gabriel Flores who painted a mural on the ceiling of the young cadet Juan Escutia plummeting to his death to keep the Mexican flag from falling into enemy hands. This hero’s journey took my breath away… from the battle of Chapultepec in 1847:
I could imagine the fantastic fetes the Emperor and Empress hosted back in the day. Shimmering ballgowns glide across black and white marble-checkered floors…
…the music of the day keeping dancers in giddy motion all night, only stopping to chat, take a drink, or utilize the commode in the posh bathroom:
We are all human, after all.
Open Tuesdays-Sundays, 09:00 – 17:00 hrs
Bosque de Chapultepec, Primera Sección , Col. Polanco V Sección, Miguel Hidalgo, C.P. 11560, México, Ciudad de México
Tel. (55) 4040 5200
In my next article about Mexico City I’ll talk about bike sharing and taking that glorious downhill ride from Chapultepec all the way to the Zocalo, the famed center of the DF.