Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), Mexico City

Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), Mexico City (must see)

The majestic Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) is a major cultural spot in Mexico City, a regular host of notable events (shows, concerts, and art exhibitions).

Construction on the palace began in 1904, directed by Italian architect Adamo Boari, but was halted in 1913 because of the complications arisen from the soft soil and the erupted Mexican Revolution. Twenty years later, the local architect Federico Mariscal took over the project and had it finished by 1934.

The palace shows a mixture of architectural styles; its exterior is primarily Art Nouveau and Neoclassical, while the interior is dominated by Art Deco.

The main facade, overlooking Avenida Juárez, is clad in white Carrara marble from Italy. Inside the portal, there are sculptural images of Harmony, Pain, Rage, Happiness, Peace, and Love. Another portion of the facade contains cherubs and sculptures representing Music and Inspiration. On the plaza in front of the building, there are four Pegasus sculptures (originally placed in the Zocalo, they were brought here eventually).

The interior is divided into three sections: the main hall; the theater; and the offices of the National Institute of Fine Arts. The second floor has smaller exhibition halls, and the third floor is occupied by the Museum of Architecture.

The building is best known for its murals by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and other prominent Mexican artists. On the north side of the third floor, you can see Siqueiros's three-part "New Democracy" (La Nueva Democracia) fresco, while at the west end of the same floor is Diego Rivera's controversial "Man, Controller of the Universe" (El Hombre Controlador Del Universo), more commonly known as "Man at the Crossroads". This mural was originally commissioned for New York's Rockefeller Center in 1933. The Rockefellers canceled the project halfway through unhappy that Rivera had included in the piece the image of Lenin and a Soviet May Day parade. The incomplete work was painted over, following which Rivera recreated it here.

The on-site theater is also famous as the place of the debut of Maria Callas in the opera Norma in 1950, among other things. The crystal roof over the stage, depicting Muses with Apollo and other mythological creatures, is yet another attraction – was brought from Hungary.

Still, the most impacting aspect of the theater is the stage "curtain" which is a stained glass foldable panel made up of nearly one million pieces of iridescent colored glass, created by Tiffany's in New York. This stage curtain is the only one of its type; it stretches up some 200 feet and weighs 24 tons. The design was inspired by the work of the Mexican artist Dr. Atl (Gerardo Murillo Cornado).

Tip:
If you want to see the Tiffany "glass curtain", you can join a free tour every Friday at 1:30 pm.
If you want a great picture, go up the Latin-American Tower across the street and find your way to the observation deck.
If you want free admission, come on Sunday, but be prepared to queue at the box office inside.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Mexico City. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) on Map

Sight Name: Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)
Sight Location: Mexico City, Mexico (See walking tours in Mexico City)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Mexico City, Mexico

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles

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