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Chapultepec Woods, Hill and Castle

Date of Submission: 20/11/2001
Criteria: (i)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Coordinates: Long. 99°11' W ; Lat. 19°22' N 2250 mt. a.s.l. Miguel Hidalgo, Mexico City
Ref.: 1273

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Spreading over almost 600 hectares, Chapultepec Woods constitutes one of the most important natural reserves in Mexico City. It has a certain variety of animal and tree species, including willow, eucalyptus, and ahuehuete, a Mexican coniferous tree. There are also various geological formations, from sand deposits to caves and holes located in the Hill itself The woods are divided in three areas. A high-speed road stands between the first section, which corresponds to the historic garden, and the other two, which are devoted to recreational activities and whose elevation increases towards the west. These sections were established in more recent times and can be considered as support areas in relation to Mexico City's metropolitan area. Throughout time, and particularly during the Y-X century, Chapultepec, Woods have been the stage for various cultural manifestations, both tangible and intangible, that have sought to satisfy the recreational and educational needs of Mexican society. The forest comprises an artificial lake used for recreational activities. It spreads beyond Reforma Avenue, where significant public buildings, dating to the latter half of the XX century, are located, and which display Mexican and Latin American culture and architecture, such as the National Museum of Anthropology and Tamayo Museum. Chapultepec Hill is a geological formation of volcanic rock and augite andesite and of steep slopes. It stands 2,400 metres above sea level, and from its top it is possible to enjoy a view of the entire Valley of Mexico to the north, south and east. This natural formation, whose name means "hill of grasshoppers" in Nahuatl language, has had an important relationship with Mexicans since the XII century, when it became their mythical and sacred place, and was crowned with an altar. Chapultepec Castle is located on the highest part of the hill. It is a Neo-classical building that has been expanded and remodelled since its construction as a summer palace for Viceroys. In 1940 it was fitted to house the National Museum of History. The building spreads over 10,000 square metres, including structures built against the slope of the hill itself, as well as gardens, walkways and exterior staircases that were integrated into the topography. Access is through a ramp that starts off at the foot of the hill, and leads all the way up to the Castle's exterior gates. The wide, open areas were used to stage various military manoeuvres. The Castle complex also includes several courtyards and gardens. Among the latter, the most outstanding is located in the Castle's Alcdzar or Citadel, where the tower of the Tall Knight rises. Noteworthy paintings decorating the walls in the foyers and halls extol the wide, open areas that characterise XIX and early XX century buildings. As the official residence of presidents and celebrities throughout Mexican History, Chapultepec Castle has witnessed from high up important events in the Valley of Mexico, all of which have shaped its historic and symbolic character that remains to our days.