The Castillo de Chapultepec, or Castle of Chapultepec, sits atop Chapultepec Hill. Chapultepec is a Nahuatl word meaning “at the hill of the grasshoppers”. The hill sits at the center of Chapultepec Park in Mexico City, about 2,325 meters above sea level. Now the Mexican National Museum of History, the castle has lived several past lives before, housing military academies, various museums and observatories, and as a presidential and Imperial residence.
Even the history of the building of the castle in the first place is fascinating. Viceroy Bernando de Galvez ordered the castle built in 1785 as a country home. The same year, Francisco Bambitelli, engineer and Lieutenant Colonel of the Spanish Army, drew up some blueprints based on the baroque style of architecture. Shortly thereafter, though, Bambitelli was sent to Havana, and Captain Manuel Agustin Mascaro was given the duty of leading the construction. Mascaro worked fast, and he was accused of building a fortress from which to stage a revolt against the Spanish Army. After Mascaro’s sudden death in 1786, the castle was eventually used to house the General Archive of the Kingdom of the New Spain.