Though his reputation is now arguably overshadowed by that of his former wife, painter and muralist Diego Rivera—commissioned by Mexico’s postrevolutionary governments starting in the late 1920s to adorn several national monuments in complex, pageantry- and allegory-laden wall paintings—was among the first Mexican artists to gain worldwide acclaim. Many of his finest works are on display in the Centro Histórico. Perhaps most spectacular are Rivera’s portrayals of Mexico’s millennia-long history, as seen in the Palacio Nacional on the Zócalo (Mexico City’s main square; take a state-issued ID for admission to the palace); a more contemporary depiction of socialist workers’ struggles (and one which includes a Frida Kahlo cameo) decorates a courtyard at the Secretariat of Public Education. One of the artist’s earliest pieces can be seen inside the amphitheater at the San Ildefonso museum. Additionally, the dazzling Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central, a surrealist who’s-who of Mexico’s turbulent fin de siècle, is the chief artwork on display at the nearby Museo Mural Diego Rivera.
National Palace (Palacio Nacional)
Mexico’s Palacio Nacional (National Palace) is full of history, both inside and out. The site itself dates back to the age of the Aztecs, with some of the building materials literally as old as Montezuma. It’s a grand building, both in scale and design, and one of the most symbolic structures in the country. Inside, there’s even more to captivate a visitor’s interest, including the most-visited attraction: Diego Rivera murals. But beyond these enduring works of a Mexican master, there’s much more to see, including enchanting courtyards, one of the country’s largest and most important libraries, and archives. Guided tours are available by appointment.
Diego Rivera mural - Presidential palace staircase
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