Thursday, January 16, 2020

Visiting City Hall

Visitors to Mexico City usually include the Zócalo, the city's main plaza, on their list of sights to see.  They go to the National Palace on the east side of the plaza and the Cathedral on the north side.  Most, however, ignore the twin buildings on the south side which house the offices of the city government.  As you face those twin buildings, the one to your right is the older of the two.  It stands on the site of Mexico City's original city hall, built in 1526.  That building burned down during riots in 1692, and a new city hall, the structure which you see today, was built in 1724.



In 1910 in celebration of the centennial of Mexico's independence, the city hall was remodeled in the ornate style that was popular during the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz.




Under the portico of the city hall are tile representations of several historic coats of arms.



Among them is the coat of arms that was granted to Mexico City by Emperor Carlos V in the 16th century.




Recently, a small portion of the building has been opened to the public as a museum.
Although visitors are not allowed to wander freely through the city hall, on their way to the museum, they have a chance to admire some of the interior.




After passing through a hall detailing the history of the city hall, you come to the old council chamber.






A portion of the fresco on the ceiling of the council chamber



From the council chamber you pass through three rooms which contain the portraits of the 62 Viceroys who ruled in the name of the King of Spain during the 300 years that Mexico was a Spanish colony.



Finally you pass through a room with historic pictures of Mexico City.  This painting shows what the Zócalo looked like in colonial times.


To the left is the Cathedral, and to the right is the city hall.  The Viceroy's Palace, today the National Palace, stretches across the rear.  In those days there was a market building in the middle of the plaza.  Also notice that there was canal running in front of the city hall.  The previous Aztec city had been built like Venice with a network of canals.  Many of those canals still existed in colonial times and were used for transporting goods throughout the city.  Also, in those days before air pollution, the snow covered volcanoes were clearly visible east of the city.

The museum is small, but it is a nice addition to the sights to see around the Zócalo.

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