Mexico may be popular for its delicious cuisine and beaches, but many people go there for the breathtaking architecture as well.
Mexican design spans a wide range of styles, each of which vividly depicts an era in the country’s history.
Exquisite colonial-era buildings stand alongside well-preserved remains from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica in the country’s busy urban centers.
Let’s take a look at the 10 most famous buildings in Mexico and what is their claim to fame.
Famous Buildings in Mexico
1. Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral is Mexico’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese’s mother church. It sits atop the original Aztec holy sector close to the Templo Mayor along the north edge of the Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo) inside the city’s memorable center.
A church established soon after the Spanish capture of Tenochtitlan had been gradually replaced by the cathedral over nearly two centuries, between 1573 and 1813.
Claudio de Arciniega, a Spanish architect, conceived the building’s design after studying Spanish Gothic cathedrals.
Because of the Catholic Church’s outsized impact on New Spanish and Mexican independence, the structure frequently served as the site of momentous events.
The President of the Congress crowned Agustin de Iturbide as well as Ana Mara Huarte as Mexico’s rulers, and their bodies have been preserved. Various church-related protests have been held there as well.
2. Museo Soumaya
There are two locations of the independent, non-profit cultural center known as the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City, on the Plazas Carso as well as Loreto. The collection spans thirty centuries and includes works by artists like
Tintoretto, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Salvador Dal, and Auguste Rodin,
as well as Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican monuments and Mexican art from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is among the most comprehensive archives of its kind.
In honor of Carlos Slim’s late wife, Soumaya Domit Museum bears her name. Soumaya Domit passed away in 1999.
In 2013, 1,095,000 people visited the museum, positioning it as the most popular art gallery in Mexico as well as the 56th most popular museum across the globe.
The five millionth visitor entered the museum’s doors in October 2015. Slim’s son-in-law, Fernando Romero, designed the museum.
3. Palacio de Correos de Mexico
In the heart of Mexico City, on the Lazaro Cardenas, close to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, sits the Palacio de Correos de México, or Mexico’s Postal Palace.
It is popularly commonly called “Correo Mayor”, meaning the Main Post Office. When the local Post Office became a detached government agency in 1907, construction of this building began.
Its layout and formation were cutting-edge for their time, and its eclectic style combined elements from many other traditions, most notably the Neo-Plateresque, into a highly intricate whole.
The building was altered in the 1950s, causing stress and damage that was exacerbated by the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. The structure was restored in the 1990s to its pre-modern state of construction and design.
4. National Palace
Mexico’s federal government is headquartered in the National Palace. The Mexican president has made it his official residence as of 2018. It may be seen in Mexico City’s iconic Plaza de la Constitución (El Zócalo).
Since the Aztec Empire, this building has been home to Mexico’s aristocracy. Many of the architectural elements in the existing palace date back to Moctezuma II’s time in power in the 16th century.
There are three primary entrances on the front, which are framed by towers on either end.
The National Palace, a federal edifice stretching over 200 m (660 feet) in length, dominates the whole eastern end of the Zócalo with its red tezontle exterior. There is a Federal Treasury as well as National Archives facilities there.
5. Palacio de Bellas Artes
Cultural activities in Mexico City often take place at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts). It has been the site of some of Mexico’s most prestigious art exhibitions and performances, including works by Mexican and international masters of music, dance, theater, opera, and literature.
As a result, the “Cathedral of Art in Mexico” moniker has been bestowed upon the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The structure may be found on the western edge of Mexico City’s historic center, adjacent to Alameda Central Park.
Originally constructed in the late 19th century, the National Theater of Mexico was torn down in 1910 to make way for a grander structure commemorating the 100th birthday of the Mexican War of Independence.
The Italian designer Adamo Boari was responsible for the original 1904 construction and design. Soft ground and political unrest leading up to and through the Mexican Revolution slowed progress and ultimately halted building in 1913.
Reconstruction started in 1932 under the direction of Mexican designer Federico Mariscal and the team finished the project in 1934. In 1934, on November 29, it opened to the public as Mexico’s first museum devoted only to displaying works of art for appreciation.
6. Chapultepec Castle
On the hill of the grasshopper, as the Nahuatl term, Chapultepec translates. Traveler James F. Elton remarked that the castle’s balconies and viewpoints “can’t be topped in beauty in any area of the world.”
It sits at an elevation of 2,325 feet above sea level at the gateway to Chapultepec Park. The hill was a holy location for the Aztecs, and its structures have seen use as a military school, an imperial palace, a presidential palace, an observatory, as well as, since the 1940s, Mexico’s National Museum of History.
Throughout the Viceroyalty, it served as the summer residence of the top colonial officials. In 1841, it became a military academy after having previously served as gunpowder storage.
Under the Second Mexican Empire, it was the official palace of Emperor Maximilian I along with his spouse (between 1864 and 1867). It became the President’s formal house in 1882 when President Manuel González made the proclamation. Until President Lázaro Cárdenas converted it into a museum in 1939, all successive presidents resided there, with very few exceptions.
7. Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe on her robe is kept in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is a Catholic church, abbey, as well as a national shrine in Mexico.
Close to the highland of Tepeyac, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared at Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the 1709 shrine stands as a testament to the faith of the people of Mexico City. In 1974, construction was finished on the basilica that now houses Juan Diego’s cloak.
There are multiple churches and other connected buildings at this location, which is also called La Villa de Guadalupe or, more commonly, La Villa.
Several million visitors flock to the basilica and tilma (cloak) each year, peaking on December 12th, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to pay their respects.
8. Casa Luis Barragán
The 1948 Casa Luis Barragán was recognized as a global landmark when it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2004.
A classic in the evolution of the contemporary trend that fuses conventional as well as vernacular features with varied philosophic and artistic currents over time, it is the only privately owned estate in Latin America to receive this prestigious award.
Since Luis Barragán died in 1988, his architectural legacy has continued to expand, and his home in Mexico City has become a popular tourist destination for architects and art enthusiasts from all over the globe.
The municipality of Jalisco as well as the Fundación de Arquitectura Tapata Luis Barragán owns the museum that was once the Mexican architect’s home and workplace.
9. Templo Mayor
The Templo Mayor (Spanish for “Main Temple”) in the ancient Mexican capital of Tenochtitlan (modern-day Mexico City) served as the religious heart of the city. Its design is characteristic of late Postclassic Mesoamerica.
In Nahuatl, the temple was known as the Huyi Teocalli. Both the god of war, Huitzilopochtli, as well as the god of rain and cultivation, Tlaloc, had shrines atop the pyramid with their own sets of stairs.
Quetzalcoatl, as the wind deity Ehecatl, was honored with the central spire in the adjacent artwork. The Sacred Precinct was controlled by the Great Temple of Huitzilopochtli as well as Tlaloc, which was roughly 100 m (328 ft) in length and 80 m (262 ft) in width at its base.
The original shrine was started after 1325, then it was destroyed and restored six times. In 1521, the Spaniards demolished the temple to make space for the construction of the present-day Cathedral of Mexico City.
10. Museo Mural Diego Rivera
The mural Sleep on a Sunday Afternoon in the Central Alameda by Diego Rivera, painted in 1946–47, is on display in the Diego Rivera Museum in Mexico City.
The museum is dedicated to the perpetuation and dissemination of Diego Rivera’s creative legacy through permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as conferences, seminars, talks, concerts, and other artistic pursuits.
The Museum of Diego Rivera was constructed in 1986 specifically to house Diego Rivera’s 1946–47 mural of the same name (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central). As a result of the 1985 earthquake that struck Mexico City, its prior location, the Hotel del Prado, was destroyed.
The hotel wall was hacked away to remove the painting, and a metal framework was erected to hold its 15-ton weight so that it could be moved.
The museum’s structure and amenities were designed to accommodate the painting once it was installed in its current location. Officially launched on February 19, 1988, the institution has become a cultural institution since then.