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Alameda Central
Historical Centre / Images of Historical Centre / Attractions of Mexico City

Neighborhood: Historical Centre
Metro: Hidalgo, Juarez and Bellas Artes

The Alameda Central is the oldest public park in Mexico City and one of the favourite places of relaxation for the inhabitants of the city.

The Alameda Central was created in the 16th Century by the Viceroy Luis de Velasco, who ordered “a walk to make the city more beautiful and at the same time a place of recreation for its inhabitants” be created. It was so and a great number of Alamos (poplar trees) were planted in the eastern limit of the then young vice-royal city, to the south of the Temple of Santa Veracruz and limited by what are now Hidalgo and Juárez Avenues. When it was noticed that the Alamo trees weren’t growing fast enough they decided to exchange them for ash and willow trees which have a faster development. Nevertheless, the name of Alameda has remained until our time.

After Viceroy Velasco’s ruling period came to an end, the Alameda decayed to a point in which it was used by the neighbors to let their horses graze. As a response to this situation, walls were put up to enclose the park and it remained like this for several centuries. For several years in the western limit of the park, in the small plaza of San Diego, there functioned the stake of the Inquisition, were atheists, Jews or any ‘inconvenient’ people to the regime were condemned to death.

Years later, when the Bourbon dynasty took over Spain’s throne, Phillip V, who had known the beauty of the gardens of Versailles and the preoccupation for beauty characteristic of the court of the Sun King, personally ordered for the Alameda that several fountains be built, new trees planted and the entrance doors extended. He also ordered that the Viceroy of the New Spain should personally supervise that this garden was always in a good state. In 1775, the Viceroy Carlos Francisco de la Croix extended the lateral sidewalks of the Alameda, which now took a rectangular shape instead of a square shape as it had had before, he also marked the interior sidewalks and four new fountains were ordered. During this phase, the Alameda was the favourite place for love, as it was visited by all the available young men and women, who after elaborate rites of gestures and signs with a handkerchief and of course, with rigorous supervision from their families, they could begin a romance.

During the time of the Second Empire, the Central Alameda was one of the favourite places of the Empress Carlota Amalia from Belgium, wife of the emperor of Mexico, Maximiliano of Hapsburg. Carlota Amalia improved the place by planting a great amount of roses and by donating the fountain “Venus led by zephyrs” work of the sculptor Mathurin Moreau. Later, President Benito Juárez ordered for the walls of the Alameda to be demolished to “avoid crimes that could be committed in favor of abandonment and shadows”. He also introduced a lighting system in 1868.

Porfirio Díaz, as part of the works he undertook for the improvement of the city, gave the Central Alameda maintenance, ordered the construction of the Palace of Fine Arts in the western limit and erected the Hemicycle to Juárez on the south side of the park, where the Morisc Kiosk, which after a brief stay in the Alameda was transported in 1909 to the district Santa María la Ribera, used to stand. Porfirio Díaz also retook the custom the Viceroy Bucareli had started of having musical recitals every Sunday, custom which remains to this day.

The Alameda Central has been since its creation, a place in which all classes of the Mexican society come together as equals, a place in which people meet and coexist in an area covered by trees and strewn with fountains of mythological characters which strive to change the ideas and fashions of each time, from religious intolerance to the vertiginous modernity of our time.


  Mexico, D.F. 2008. All rights reserved.