Mexico City -






History of Mexico City



Archaeological sites





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Attractions of Mexico City

Area: Centro Alameda
Balderas on the corner with José María Morelos
Metro: Balderas

The Ciudadela is a great architectural complex designed in 1807 to accomodate the 'Real Fábrica de Tabacos' (Tobacco Factory); architect José Antonio González and engineer Miguel Constanzo were in charge of overseeing it's construction. 

The Real Fábrica de Tabacos' building was renamed by the inhabitants of the city as “Ciudadela” (citadel) due to its austere, almost military character. Faithful to the recquirements of its functionality focused on production, it's a one floor building distributed on a square plan in which the corners and middle section are accentuated through spaces that surpass the taken in outline of the rest of the building. The courtyard it originaly had at its centre is now divided in four covered ones seperated by two intersecting bays that form a cross. Its exterior is extremely sober and has little ornamentation, mainly moldings and friezes in grey stone which contrast with the reddish tone of the tepetate. 

The outburst of the war of Independence a little after the building's inauguration as well as its strategic position near one of the access roads to Mexico City were the reasons why it was subsequently used as headquarters and also a prison. It was in this place in which Jose María Morelos y Pavón, one of the heroes of mexican Independence, spent his last days before being transfered for his execution. A century later, on february 1913 many executions took place there during the bloody period of the 'Decena Trágica' (Ten Tragic Days) which ended the democratic government of Francisco I. Madero. After decades of not being used to its full potential the building was transformed into the 'Biblioteca de México', the most visited public library in the city; afterwards a few modifications were made in the interior so as to provide new spaces for other cultural institutions like the 'Centro de la Imagen' (Image Centre), a museum specialized in photography which actively hosts several exhibitions relative to the visual arts.

On the esplanade in front of The Ciudadela there's a square called 'Plaza Morelos'; an ample space full of trees, it boasts an interesting monument dedicated to the memory of this important historical character as well as two exquisitely cast bronze fountains. At the weekends, the famous dancing lessons which have already become a tradition in the area are offered free of charge to people of all ages and backgrounds; this activity has led the square to be also known as 'Plaza del Danzón' (Cuban Dance Square).

To one side of The Ciudadela, on Balderas Avenue, there often is a popular crafts, books and antiques market where one can find some interesting objects at a reasonable price.

The 'Biblioteca de México' is open to the public every day except holidays from 8:30 to 19:30 hrs. The 'Centro de la Imagen' is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 to 18:00 hrs.













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