History & Fun Facts of the Alameda Central Park, Mexico City
By Mónica Rodríguez |
Visit Alameda Central Park in Mexico City, and discover the monument that commemorates Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, an outdoors museum inspired by classical mythology, and a fountain of Venus built by order of an empress.
Without doubt, some of the most emblematic tourist sites in Mexico City are the Castle of Chapultepec, the magical neighborhood of San Angel,and the Historic Center of Coyoacan. Crowds visit these places to discover the history and art of Mexico’s capital, and to observe the cultural diversity that characterizes this metropolis. DINKtravelers invites you to discover another magical attraction at Alameda Central Park.
History of Alameda Central Park
The Alameda is the oldest park in America. It was built by order of viceroy Luis de Velasco in the 16th century, and it was named like that since he intended to plant poplars (álamos, in Spanish) there. His plan failed because these trees take too long to grow. However, the name “Alameda” remained the official one.
Nowadays, locals and foreign visitors can take walks along the park, but it was not always like this. Access to the park was restricted by a gate, and only the richest people in the city could enter. This restriction went on until the 19th century, when president Benito Juarez opened it to the general public.
Empress Charlotte at the Alameda Central
Since its construction, the Alameda Central Park has gone through many changes. Several viceroys did a great effort to turn it into the most beautiful park in the world, and to make it the most popular place for promenades in the city. In fact, empress Charlotte loved to take long walks along the Alameda Central Park, so she ordered the maintenance of its green areas, as well as the construction of one of the fountains that adorn the park today.
Renovations of the Alameda Park
The Alameda constantly suffered from floods due to the overflow of the water canals that ran next to it after heavy rains. The problem persisted until president Porfirio Diaz emptied the water out of the canals to avoid floods. He also installed public lighting and ordered the construction of the Hemicycle to Juarez, as well as the Palace of Fine Arts, which are two iconic attractions of Mexico City’s Downtown. Many other presidents also invested a lot in the park. For example, Miguel Aleman ordered the planting of hundreds of trees, and Luis Echeverria ordered renovations that took six months and cost 22 million pesos.
In 2012, the park was fully renovated and acquired its current appearance. The green areas and monuments were cleaned, the paving was improved, and the installment of hawker stalls was forbidden in order to avoid any damage to the park. After this, the Alameda Central Park was declared Historic Heritage of Mexico City. This is a well-deserved recognition because the park is both an emblem and a witness of Mexico City’s history since the 16th century.
Celebrations at Alameda Central Park
The Alameda has been the perfect place to celebrate historic events. It witnessed the triumphant entrance of the Trigarante Army, led by Agustin Iturbide, after their victory in the Independence War.
Another celebration was the one president Santa Anna organized in one of his multiple returns to presidency. It is said that he filled the fountains with punch to invite people to celebrate! But he was not the only one who planned a celebration like this. President Benito Juarez also organized a big feast at the park to celebrate the restoration of the Republic after he defeated the conservative party and abolished Maximilian of Habsburg’s empire.
Later, president Porfirio Diaz, who enjoyed taking long walks along the Alameda with his wife Carmelita, organized music concerts at the park, a tradition that still exists today. Moreover, not so long ago, the Alameda would turn into a Christmas village where people could meet Santa Claus and the Three Wise Men during the holidays.
Sculptures at the Alameda
Due to its importance throughout history, the Alameda has housed many sculptures such as the Monument to Beethoven. It was elaborated in black bronze by the German sculptor Gladembech as part of the celebration of the Centenary of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It was a gift from the German colony in Mexico, and it was inaugurated in 1921.
Along the Alameda there are many other sculptures of classical and mythological characters. The fountains are the park’s greatest attractions. Even though they were installed in different periods, they make up a harmonious exhibition and a unique landscape. We recommend you visit them after sunset to enjoy the spectacle of fountain lights that were installed in the park’s most recent renovation. These are our favorite fountains:
- The Americas: It’s located in the heart of the park, behind the Hemicycle to Juarez, and it is the representation of a woman whose upper body is uncovered.
- Mercury: It portrays the messenger of the gods in Roman mythology, and it’s a copy of the sculpture exhibited in the Museum of Bargello in Florence. Another copy of this work is found at the Louvre in France. Find it at the western end of the park, near the pond.
- The Danaids: It portrays two women who seem to be filling the fountain with their pitchers. It represents the myth of the 50 daughters of Danaus.
- Venus: It was sculpted by order of empress Charlotte and it represents the Roman goddess of beauty and love.
- Neptune: It’s one of the most imposing fountains at the park and it represents the god of the seas emerging from the water. This sculpture is very similar to the one in Santiago de Chile.
Hemicycle to Juarez
Continue your walk along the park and visit the Hemicycle to Juarez, an impressive marble monument that welcomes visitors who arrive at the Alameda from Juarez Avenue. In the center of the monument you’ll find a medallion surrounded by a laurel wreath that reads “To the meritorious Benito Juarez. The fatherland.” Also, on top of the monument you’ll see two allegorical sculptures: The Homeland and The Law. A long time ago, instead of the monument there used to be a beautiful Moorish gazebo. Now, you can also visit this construction at its new location in the Santa Maria La Ribera neighborhood.
Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central Park
DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, recommends you finish your walk along the Alameda with a visit to the Diego Rivera Mural Museum. There, you will find the mural Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central Park. It was inspired by both the park’s and the city’s history. It portrays the people whose lives have been intertwined with the park’s evolution. Moreover, it shows how the Alameda has been an important witness of Mexican life. Pay for a guided visit to learn about the history of both the mural and the park that inspired it.