The History of Chapultepec Castle in One Minute

Discover the history of Chapultepec Castle
Discover the history of Chapultepec Castle | © Westend61 GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Northern England Writer

Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City is the only castle to house royalty in North America. Culture Trip surveys the landmark’s history.

Meixco City’s Chapultepec castle has played a role in takeover plots, accusations of foul play, and executions over the centuries. Construction on the building began in 1785, on the orders of Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez, before being taken over by Manuel Agustín Mascaró following the departure of the original architect, Francisco Bambitelli. This sparked the rumor that Mascaró wanted to rebel against the Spanish Crown, and when Gálvez died unexpectedly, foul play was floated as an unsubstantiated theory. Eventually, after its completion and numerous attempts on the part of the Spanish Crown to sell the Castle at a cut price, Mexico City’s municipal government purchased it in 1806. Despite being abandoned during the War of Independence, the Castle rose to notoriety once again when it became the site of the deaths of six young men – immortalized as the Niños Héroes (Hero Children) – who died defending it in 1847 during the Mexican-American war.

Construction on Chapultepec castle began in 1785

It still reigns as the only castle in North America that actually served as a residence for royalty; Mexican Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota lived there from 1864 until he was executed three years later. During their period of residence, the Castle was known as Castillo de Miravalle. It also underwent refurbishments in a Neoclassical style, which supposedly made the palace more habitable. Thanks to royalty living there, on what were still the outskirts of Mexico City at the time, the city developed of a nearby thoroughfare, which we now know as the bustling Paseo de la Reforma.

It is the only castle in North America that has been used as a residence by royalty

After housing royalty, Chapultepec Castle was an observatory, a military college (again), and even an official guest house for foreign dignitaries. It was Lázaro Cárdenas in 1939, though, who established a decree stating that it should be the seat of the Museo Nacional de Historia, which still calls Castillo de Chapultepec its home to this day.

The castle has served as an observatory, a military college and even a guest house for foreign dignitaries

In popular culture, the Castle was used during the filming of Baz Luhrmann’s wildly successful Romeo + Juliet film. While it’s alleged that the Castle is haunted – reports include hearing ghostly footsteps moving down the corridors and seeing translucent figures in the darkness – these sightings might just be a Luhrmann adaptation of Hamlet.

Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo + Juliet’ was partially filmed at the castle

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article