The castle fell into disuse after the fall of the Second Mexican Empire in 1867. in 1876, a decree established it as an Astronomical, Meteorological and Magnetic Observatory on the site, which was opened in 1878. However, the observatory was only functional for five years until they decided to move it to the former residence of the Archbishop in Tacubaya. The reason was to allow the return of the Colegio Militar to the premises as well as transforming the building into the presidential residence.
The palace underwent several structural changes from 1882 and during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz. The other Presidents who made the palace their official residence were Francisco I. Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Álvaro Obregón, Plutarco Elías Calles, Emilio Portes Gil, Pascual Ortiz Rubio and Abelardo Rodríguez. It was used for a time as an official guest house or residence for foreign dignitaries.
In 1916, President Venustiano Carranza had the building demolished to the southwest of the College (built during the Porfirist era) so that the Alcazar was more visible; It was there that he installed the offices of the federal government and the presidential residence. The consecutive presidents maintained this headquarters until the government of Abelardo Rodríguez.
In 1939, President Lázaro Cárdenas decreed that the National Museum of History be installed in Chapultepec Castle, a site declared national heritage. Between 1941 and 1944 the building was restored and adapted to house the collections that had been designated to the museum. On September 27, 1944, President Miguel Ávila Camacho inaugurated the National History Museum.
President Cárdenas moved to a large area of land that adjoined the south-western part of the Chapultepec forest, known as the “La Hormiga” Ranch. This site was owned by the Martínez del Río family, one of the wealthiest families in the country at that time. They called him “The Ant” because it was the smallest property of the family. “La Hormiga” would later be renamed Los Pinos, official residence of the President of Mexico from 1935 to 2018.
The castle was never used as an official residence since the mandate of President Lázaro Cárdenas, who never even used it as such.
In addition, the 27 of April of 1991 and 16 of January of 1992, harbored signatures of the peace accords, which ended twelve years of civil war in El Salvador.
On June 23, 2012, it hosted the dialogue for war: a dialogue between relatives of the victims of the war on drug trafficking – headed by the poet Javier Sicilia – and Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. Dialogue where the president and the Executive Power were responsible for the approximately 40,000 deaths resulting from the drug war. This fact has been considered as “unprecedented” in the political and democratic history of Mexico.
Currently it is still used as a museum. Its 19 rooms contain a vast range of pieces that exceed ninety thousand where the history of Mexico is exhibited and illustrated since the Spanish conquest, with various objects such as medieval armor, swords and cannons among many others. His collection of objects has been organized in 6 curatorships:
Painting, sculpture, drawing, engraving and printing.
Historical documents and flags.
Technology and weapons.
Clothing and accessories.
Furniture and household goods.
It also provides services such as library, video library, photo library and guided tours.
The comfort of home: The opening of this staircase during the period of government of President Manuel González (1880 to 1884), contributed notably to turning the Alcazar into a comfortable residence with accessible spaces. The rooms of the president and his wife, located on the upper floor, communicated through this staircase with the reception and dining rooms located below. The ladder of the lions was reserved for the reception of the guests, while the steps of the slender southeast tower and behind the dining room were used for the circulation of the servitude. The circulation between the two floors and the basement was complemented by an electric elevator, for the exclusive use of the president and his family.
Gallery of Emplomados
Fertility and abundance: In the leaded windows that give this gallery its name, the predilection for nineteenth-century European art and the Greco-Roman fountains in which it, in turn, watered. The stained glass windows, made in Paris commissioned by Porfirio Díaz around 1900, show the elegant figures of five goddesses who embody female attributes in mythology.
From right to left, his effigies are those of Pomona, goddess who sponsored fruit crops; Flora, whose beauty is equal to that of the flowers that open in spring; Hebe, bearer of the divine nectar granted by eternal youth; Diana, hunting deity, patron of fertility and birth; and Ceres, who presides over agriculture, the grain and the love that a mother professes for her children. Ironically, the figures hid in the eyes of most of the population of the country – assumed then in poverty and disenchantment – the lavishness of the interior halls.
The big receptions: During Porfirio Díaz’s stay in the Presidency, the country’s international relations experienced a period of strengthening that attracted foreign investments, considered necessary to modernize the nation. The halls of Chapultepec Castle received on several occasions diplomats from other countries, where they enjoyed the hospitality of the presidential family.
This room, also known as “Hall of Ambassadors”, was decorated in French style, with baroque and neoclassical elements, by the artist Epitacio Calvo. The furniture, Louis XVI style and the carpet – made by the Aubusson house with a view of the Castle – were manufactured in France.
Office of the President
A study at home: Porfirio Díaz attended high school at the Tridentino Seminary of his native Oaxaca, a city where he pursued law school. Throughout his life, he always found moments for reading and studying – although he never corrected some spelling mistakes. Among the books in his library were historical and jurisprudence works, as well as books in which the peace and progress achieved during his rule were exalted.
Health and cleaning habits: The intentions of the Maximilian government to “place Mexico in the advance of civilization” led him to renew public services, among which were the drinking water pipelines — which would replace the popular “water” , who carried the water from the public fountains to every corner of the city – the drain of the Valley of Mexico, the cobblestone of streets and its lighting with gas. At that time, baths or troughs were used to bathe with the help of water heaters and baskets.
In the Alcazar, where the water came from the springs of the hill on the back of a mule or in carts, Maximiliano and Carlota each had a cabinet for personal hygiene and hygiene.
“Building castles with landscaped terraces” was the definition of happiness that Maximilian expressed on occasion. A deep connoisseur of palatial architecture and gardening of his time, and botanist, on the terrace of the Castle he found a place to make his dream come true.
Around this intimate garden, bordered by corridors with light roofs supported on thin iron columns, Maximiliano listened and dictated his correspondence. As in the European palaces of the time, the inner garden was visually integrated into an outdoor park, here the Chapultepec forest.
National History Museum, Chapultepec Castle
The National Museum of History is the Chapultepec Castle that holds the memory of the history of Mexico, from the conquest of Tenochtitlan to the Mexican Revolution. Its rooms show a diversity of objects representative of four centuries of the history of Mexico. The museum is located in the Castillo de Chapultepec, whose construction began in 1785 during the government of the Viceroy of New Spain, Bernardo de Gálvez. Although it was created for rest home, over time it was adapted to different uses: it was a military school, imperial residence with Maximilian and Carlota (1864-1867), presidential residence and, since 1939, headquarters of the National Museum of History.
The museum has 12 permanent exhibition halls that present the historical trajectory of the country, from the Conquest to the Mexican Revolution; and 22 rooms in the area known as Alcázar, where the rooms of Maximiliano and Carlota and President Porfirio Díaz are recreated, as well as a room that recalls the assault on Chapultepec Castle.
Chapultepec Castle (Spanish: Castillo de Chapultepec) is located on top of Chapultepec Hill in the Chapultepec park. The name Chapultepec stems from the Nahuatl word chapoltepēc which means “at the grasshopper’s hill”. The castle has such unparalleled views and terraces that historian James F. Elton wrote that they can’t “be surpassed in beauty in any part of the world”. It is located in the middle of Chapultepec Park in Mexico City at a height of 2,325 meters (7,628 ft) above sea level. The site of the hill was a sacred place for Aztecs, and the buildings atop it have served several purposes during its history, including that of Military Academy, Imperial residence, Presidential home, observatory, and presently, the National Museum of History.
It was built at the time of the Viceroyalty as summer house for the viceroy. It was given various uses, from the gunpowder warehouse to the military academy in 1841. It became the official residence of Emperor Maximilian I and his consort Empress Carlota during the Second Mexican Empire (1864-1867). In 1882, President Manuel González declared it the official residence of the President. With few exceptions, all succeeding presidents lived there until 1939, when President Lázaro Cárdenas turned it into a museum.