Chapultepec Park Walking Tour, Mexico City

Chapultepec Park Walking Tour (Self Guided), Mexico City

Nicknamed "the Lungs of Mexico City", Chapultepec Park is a vast oasis of lush greenery in the heart of the Mexican capital, sprawling over 686 hectares of land, providing a vital source of oxygen for the city. Rich in natural beauty, historical landmarks, and vibrant atmosphere, throughout centuries, this park has inspired various works of literature, poetry, and visual art, further solidifying its place as a symbol of Mexican identity.

Historically, the significance of the Chapultepec area dates back to the pre-Columbian era when it served as a retreat for Aztec rulers. The Aztec emperor Moctezuma II had a summer residence here, on the hill now occupied by the Chapultepec Castle. And later, during the colonial period, Chapultepec Park accommodated Spanish viceroys. Its name comes from the Nahuatl language and means "Hill of the Grasshopper."

Today, the park is divided into three sections. Within the first section, you can find several museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and the National Museum of Anthropology, showcasing a vast array of Mexican and international artistic and historic heritage. The second section is dedicated to recreational activities, while the third, known as the Chapultepec Forest ("Bosque de Chapultepec"), is a tranquil nature reserve, home to diverse flora and fauna, providing opportunities for the lovers of various outdoor activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and more.

Among other prominent features of the park is the Ninos Heroes Monument, otherwise known as the Monument to the Heroic Cadets, commemorating brave military cadets who valiantly fought against the invading U.S. forces during the Battle of Chapultepec in 1847, during the Mexican-American War. Also, Chapultepec Zoo – one of the oldest and most important zoological institutions in Latin America – has been a popular attraction within the park since 1923.

If you seek a peaceful and multifaceted retreat from the bustling city that combines history, culture, and natural beauty, Chapultepec Park is just what you need.
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Chapultepec Park Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Chapultepec Park Walking Tour
Guide Location: Mexico » Mexico City (See other walking tours in Mexico City)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Ninos Heroes Monument
  • Chapultepec Castle
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • National Museum of Anthropology
  • Chapultepec Zoo
Ninos Heroes Monument

1) Ninos Heroes Monument

At the entrance of Chapultepec Park is an imposing monument that honors 6 Mexican teenage military cadets who died defending Mexico when the US army laid siege to the Chapultepec castle in Mexico City.

The Niños Héroes Memorial is made of Carrara marble. The structure was designed by architect Enriquez Aragon and executed by sculptor Ernesto Tamariz in 1952. The young heroes in whose memory the structure was built were young military cadets between the ages of 13 and 19. These brave young men fought from Chapultepec Castle and resisted the invading US army till their last breath. Juan Escutia, the last of the cadets wrapped himself in the Mexican flag and jumped to his death to prevent it from falling in the hands of the enemy. After their heroic deed, they were buried in a part of Chapultepec Park. In 1952, their remains were interred in the monument to ensure that the memory of their courage would live forever. The monument has a statue of a mother holding a dying son in her arms with six pillars representing each of the six young men surrounding the sculpture in a semicircle. Each pillar is topped by a bronze torch.

Visitors can pay homage to the young men who showed that bravery is a virtue that knows no age while visiting the Niños Héroes Monument in Mexico City.

Visit along with Chapultepec Park and Castle. Good for a photo op!
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Chapultepec Castle

2) Chapultepec Castle (must see)

Commanding spectacular views of Mexico City, this castle is the only structure to have served as a seat of a sovereign in North America. The building stands majestically on Chapultepec Hill and now houses the National Museum of History.

The Castillo de Chapultepec was built for the then Spanish viceroy, Bernardo de Galvez in 1725. The building was purchased by the city of Mexico in 1806. In 1833, the castle became a military academy and a tower called the Caballero Alto (Tall Knight) was added to the existing structure. In 1847, boy heroes aged between 14 and 20 died defending the castle when US troops laid siege. They were later honored by a mural in the ceiling at the entrance of the castle. In 1864, Emperor Maximilian I and his Empress Carlota of Mexico chose the building as their residence and extensive changes were made to the architecture and landscape to make it a palace, fit for a king. In 1882, Porfirio Diaz converted the castle as the official residence of the Mexican President.

In 1939, the castle ceased to be the residence of the President and was open to visitors as the National Museum of History. The museum is arranged in chronological order and one can see exhibits from the Aztec Empire until the 1930s.

Why You Should Visit:
The only Imperial castle in America! Very cheaply priced and with a beautiful view of the Reforma Avenue which was originally modeled after the Champs-Élysées in Paris to remind Maximilian's wife, Carlota, of her home. The surrounding area of Chapultepec Park boasts a Zoo and many other attractions to complete the day.

Try to see when the ballet folklórico is performing because to see their show after the museum closes is a great experience!
At the top, you can go to the right to see the Caracol History Museum (made in the shape of a shell) which has some informative dioramas explaining the very complex history of Mexico.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Museum of Modern Art

3) Museum of Modern Art

Located on the East side of Chapultepec Park, to the left of the Paseo de la Reforma is a repository of paintings, lithography, photography and sculpture by Mexican artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Museo de Arte Moderno was designed by renowned Mexican architects Rafael Mijares and Pedro Ramirez Vazquez. The main museum has a round design with two floors and a central stairway. The institution has six galleries featuring a range of artistic masterpieces under sky-lit rotundas. The building has a permanent collection of paintings by the great 20th century Mexican artists, Frida Kahlo, Olga Costa, Gelsen Gas, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, and Vladimir Kora among others. The surrounding gardens have many examples of free-standing works of eminent modern Mexican sculptors. The works of the three great muralists, Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and Manuel Alvarez Bravo are also showcased at the museum. The institution also hosts some of the finest temporary Mexican and international modern art collections. 'Las dos Fridas' by Frida Kahlo and 'La Vendedoras de Frutas' by Olga Costa are the world-renowned works of art featured in the collection.

The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays. Guided tours are conducted around the exhibits for the benefit of visitors. Informative reference books are also available at the library.

Why You Should Visit:
A great opportunity to explore the endless creativity of modern Mexican artists.
The infrastructure includes baggage storage, nice and pleasant coffee-shop, good bookshop, lavatories, lift, and access for disabled persons.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10:15am-5:30pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
National Museum of Anthropology

4) National Museum of Anthropology (must see)

Located between Paseo de la Reforma and Calle Mahatma Gandhi in the Chapultepec Park is the National Museum of Anthropology. The institution seeks to preserve the archeological and anthropological heritage of pre-Columbian Mexico and to promote modern Mexican ethnography.

The building housing the anthropology museum has a modernist design with halls surrounding a central courtyard or patio. There is a large pond in the patio and a large concrete umbrella supported by a single concrete pillar. An artificial cascade falls around the umbrella. All the halls are surrounded by landscaped gardens, many of which have outdoor exhibits. Significant artifacts at the museum include the Aztec Stone of the Sun, a 16th century Aztec Statue of Xochipilli, the 8th-century tomb of the Mayan ruler Pacal, a monkey cup made of black obsidian and giant stone heads from the Olmec civilization. There are impressive reproductions of Mayan murals in a reconstructed temple. The institution not only presents the anthropology of the pre-Columbian era but also helps visitors to learn of ethnic groups in modern Mexico and how they live today.

Why You Should Visit:
On par with the best museums of this type in the world. Your camera will smoke from all the pictures!
Excellent layout/curatorship and they have a delicious restaurant with economically priced dishes, as well as excellent crafted silver jewels at an affordable price.

Arrive promptly at opening time to avoid larger crowds later in the day.
Exhibit labels in English are available for major items. Load Google translate on your phone/tablet and use the image translator feature to translate the exhibit descriptions.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-7pm; free on Sundays
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Chapultepec Zoo

5) Chapultepec Zoo

Occupying 17 hectares of the first section of Chapultepec Park in Mexico City is the Parque Zoologico de Chapultepec. The zoo is the most visited in Mexico and attracts over 5 million visitors every year. It was conceived and created by noted Mexican biologist Alfonso Luis Herrera.

The design of the Parque Zoologico de Chapultepec was based on the Bioparco Roma Zoo in Italy. The foundations for the zoo were laid in 1923. The location was once the game reserve of the Aztec emperor Moctezuma. Alfonso Luis Herrera visited zoological parks around the world before creating the institution. Species on view include birds, mammals, and reptiles. The area spans 17 acres with separate sections for different climatic conditions and vegetation. The butterfly park has over 40 species of butterflies, native to Mexico. In 1972 the Peoples Republic of China gifted two giant pandas to the zoo. Native species include the volcano rabbit, the Mexican wolf, the howler monkey, and the Jaguar. The Parque Zoologico de Chapultepec has an onsite laboratory for reproductive physiology to enable reproduction of non-native species in captivity by natural or artificial means.

Admission to the Parque Zoologico de Chapultepec is free and the park remains open for visitors, Tuesdays through Sundays.

Why You Should Visit:
Lots of cool animals and the layout makes it easy to do sections or the whole zoo.
There are many trees and shady areas, so you won't feel beaten by the sun even on a warm day.
The zoo also has a food court with everything from McDonald's, Chinese, Mexican and Domino's Pizza.

It is best to go in the morning when animals are most active and the heat is not an issue.
The butterfly enclosure is not free, but reasonably priced, and worth the walkthrough.
Spend a few extra pesos and take a paddleboat out on the lake, too!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-4:30pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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