25.05.2008 - 25.05.2008 29 °C
I dedicated today to seeing the two museums in Parque Chapultepec I wanted to get to: the Castillo (hilltop palace of Emperor Maximilian) and the National Anthropological Museum. I woke up, stopped at Cafe de Carlos for espresso and panqué de limón (lemon poundcake with lemon icing), and walked across the Condesa to Chapultepec.
Admission to the park, normally 45 pesos, is free on Sundays, so it's jammed with Mexican families out for the day. Here's the courtyard of the Castillo:
When Mexico defaulted on its foreign loans in the 19th century, the major European powers appointed Hapsburg prince Maximilian Emperor of Mexico, and sent him across the Atlantic to sort things out. The first actual descendant of Ferdinand and Isabela to rule on location, Maximilian lasted a mere three years before capture and execution on the orders of Benito Juarez in 1867. But his castle is nice:
Maximilian didn't build from scratch, though. The park has been urban refuge (largest urban green area in Latin America according to the signs) and palace site for hundreds of years. Twenty years before his reign, the military academy on the hill was stormed by US troops during the Mexican-American War. The cadets guarding the 'Halls of Montezuma' were no match for the Americans, but rather than surrender, six of them resisted to the end, one even wrapping himself in the Mexican flag and throwing himself off the cliff. The Niños Héroes are memorialized all over the city; here they are depicted on the precipice: