Sometimes, fitting museums visits or exhibits into my schedule can get a little complicated. Either I am too tired from rehearsals or I have to be at the theatre all day, hence giving me no chance for recreational activities.
A couple of weeks ago, I realized I had not done a cultural visit in a very long time. Despite having a performance at Palacio de Bellas Artes later that night, I decided to visit the Chapultepec Castle.
The castle can be found at the Chapultepec forest. The word Chapultepec comes from the nahuatl meaning "grasshopper´s hill". There has been human presence in this area since at least 3,000 years ago. The Aztecs where the last civilization to ocuppy the area before the conquest. Luckily we can still appreciate the "Baths of Moctezuma", which can give us an idea of the aqueduct system used to bring water to the city in the Pre- Columbian era.
It was during the viceroyalty period that the decision of building a palace on top of the Chapultepec hill was made. The now called Castillo de Chapultepec has had different purposes throughout history. In 1801 it was a Military Academy, later on the residence of Emperor Maximilan I of Mexico and his wife, and in the future as presidential home. Currently, it is home to the National Museum of History.
When I first moved to Mexico City, I visited the National Museum of History. A few months later, I danced The Sleeping Beauty with the Compañia Nacional de Danza at the forecourt of the Alcazar.
I had not been to the castle since the last Sleeping Beauty season in 2013. Being back there felt very strange at first. I did not remember what the museum looked like without it being adapted for our performances. While walking through the hallways, I could only think of those long weeks of rehearsals. During this time I was an apprentice and this shows helped me a lot to get noticed by the artistic staff. Within the murals of Siqueiros and Clemente Orozco I could see myself practicing over and over the role of Little Red Riding Hood before going on stage. This was the first time I danced outside the core of ballet... such an easy role would make me feel so nervous! I only got to do two seasons of The Sleeping Beauty, but many where the memories revived that day within the castle´s walls.
The architecture of the castle is quite marvelous but what I like the best are the majestic gardens and terraces. The Chapultepec Castle is quite a unique place. From the panoramic views of the castle you can feel the mysticism of a city that was once the great Tenochtitlan.
If you happen to visit the Chapultepec Castle, please tell me all about it.