Chapultepec Castle, Mexico is the only castle on the continent of North America to house actual sovereigns. When people think of castles, the castles of Europe or Asia often come to mind, such as the interlocking palaces and enormous courtyards of the Forbidden City in China or the towering spires of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. North America, however, isn’t a continent that has much in the way of castles. This is mostly due to the modern history of the continent, dating from when European settlers arrived, being a history of democracies or colonies.
There is one castle, however, on the continent of North America that can claim the title of being a castle, and that is the Chapultepec Castle located in Mexico City. The castle situated on top of Chapultepec Hill acts as a visible reminder of the bygone days of aristocracy in Mexico. The construction of the castle started in the year 1785. However, the castle wasn’t completed until after Mexico’s independence, at which time the structure became the country’s national military academy.
In the year 1864, Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota took up residence in Chapultepec Castle, and refurbished it to be their home. Their palace is preserved in the castle’s east end, featuring opulent furnishings in the salons that open out onto the exterior deck, which offers sweeping views of Mexico City. The castle was home to the presidents of Mexico up until the year 1939, when the building was converted into the Museo Nacional de Historia by President Lázaro Cárdenas.
On the Chapultepec Castle’s upper floor, the grand rooms were the work of Porfirio Díaz, the first president who used the castle as his residence during the late nineteenth century. A patio is situated at the center, in which a tower indicates the point that is the top of Chapultepec Hill, located forty-five meters above street level. The castle can be reached by following the road curving up the hill located behind the Monumento a los Niños Héroes. A train-like vehicle also travels up the hill every fifteen minutes during the opening hours for Chapultepec Castle. Audio guides of the castle are also available in English for a fee.
Chapultepec Castle possesses the somewhat dubious distinction of being North America’s only castle to act as a residence for sovereigns. Originally built in the year 1725 by orders from Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez, the structure was meant to serve as the home of the Viceroy, who at the time was the commander-in-chief of New Spain, the Spanish colony. The castle was abandoned during the Mexican War of Independence, and remained in an abandoned state for several decades.
The building was later renovated and transformed into the National Military Academy. As the military academy, the Chapultepec Castle served as the battle site for the Mexican-American War’s Battle of Chapultepec in the year 1847. In the year 1864, as a result of the rise of the Second Mexican Empire, the castle became the home of Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota, his wife.p>More Mexico Things to Do