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Category of Astronomical Heritage: tangible immovable
Astronomical Observatory Castillo de Chapultepec, Mexico

Format: IAU - Outstanding Astronomical Heritage Description

Description

Geographical position 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 3
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 12:47:41
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Astronomical Observatory Castillo de Chapultepec, Miguel Hidalgo,
Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, 11100 Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

 

Location 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 11:43:53
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Latitude 19°25’14’’’N, Longitude 99°10’54’’W, Elevation 2325m above mean sea level.

 

IAU observatory code 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
    Subentity: 1
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    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 11:38:12
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

-

 

Description of (scientific/cultural/natural) heritage 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 14:36:55
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785), Observatory (1876

Fig. 1. Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785), Observatory (1876/78) (Wikipedia, CC3, Colariboo)



The hill was a sacred place for (Toltecs and) Aztecs in the city of Tenochtitlan (today: Mexico City), founded in 1325. The Nahuatl word chapoltepec means "hill of the grasshopper".


Chapultepec during the Viceroyalty - Colonial Period



The construction of Castillo de Chapultepec started in 1785, following an order of Viceroy Bernardo Vicente de Gálvez y Madrid (1746--1786), the highest colonial administrator. Francisco Bambitelli, Lieutenant Colonel of the Spanish Army and engineer, drew up the blueprint and began the construction on August 16 of the same year. After Bambitelli´s departure to Havana, the architect Manuel Agustín Mascaró, Captain of the infantry and engineer, wanted to build a fortress against the Spanish Crown, but the project was not completed, the Viceroy died already in 1786.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769--1859) visited the site in 1803 and condemned the sale of the palace’s windows by the Royal Treasury as a way of raising funds for the Crown. The building was finally bought in 1806 by the City Council of Mexico City.


Chapultepec as Colegio Militar



Watchtower of Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785), Obs

Fig. 2. Watchtower of Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785), Observatory (1876/78) (Wikipedia, CC3, Carlos Caballero Vallejo)



During the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) and until 1833, the castle was abandoned; then used as Colegio Militar (Military Academy. At that time the watchtower - known as Caballero Alto (Tall Knight) - was added. In 1847, it was taken by United States forces during the Battle of Chapultepec of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).


Chapultepec as Royal Castle - Second Mexican Empire (1864/67)



In 1864, it became a Royal castle and was renamed as Castillo de Miravalle by Maximilian I (1832--1867); the Austrian archduke reigned as Emperor of the Second Mexican Empire from 1864 until 1867. The Emperor hired Austrian, French, Belgian, and Mexican architects: Julius Hofmann (1840--1896), Carl Gangolf Kayser (1837--1895), Carlos Schaffer, Eleuterio Méndez and Ramón Cruz Arango, to redesign the castle in Neoclassical (Neo-Gothic and Neo-romanticism) style (Kayser and Hofmann built also Neuschwanstein Castle for the Maximilian’s cousin Ludwig II of Bavaria).


Chapultepec as Observatory (1876/78--1883)



Observatory, tower with dome (1876/78--1883) in Ca

Fig. 3. Observatory, tower with dome (1876/78--1883) in Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67), (El Profe Bernardo)



In 1876, the Mexican Government decreed the foundation of a National Astronomical, Meteorological and Magnetic Observatory, opened in 1878 in Chapultepec Castle, using the watchtower as observing site. In 1881, the first National Astronomical Observatory Yearbook (Anuario) was published.

But the observatory was only used for five years until 1883, then it was moved to the former residence of the Archbishop in Tacubaya.
The observatory tower still exists, but without the dome and also the instruments were removed.

 

History 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 14:37:17
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67) (Wikipedi

Fig. 4. Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67) (Wikipedia, CC2, henrivzq)



From 1883 on, the Mexican Presidents made the palace their official residence (until 1939).
Since the 1940s, the Castillo de Chapultepec is used as Museo Nacional de Historia.

 

State of preservation 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 14:37:54
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67), used as

Fig. 5. Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67), used as observatory (1876/78-1883), tower with dome (El Profe Bernardo)


Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67), used as

Fig. 5. Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67), used as observatory (1876/78-1883) (Wikipedia)



The Castillo de Chapultepec is well preserved.
In the central court, the observatory tower is still present, but without instruments.

 

Comparison with related/similar sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 14:38:26
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67), used as

Fig. 6. Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67), used as observatory (1876/78-1883), tower (El Profe Bernardo)


It is a tower observatory like many observatories in 18th century, for example in Italy.

 

Threats or potential threats 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
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    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 14:38:49
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

no threats

 

Present use 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
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    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 14:39:15
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67), inside (

Fig. 7. Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67), inside (Wikipedia, CC3, Colariboo)



The Castillo de Chapultepec is used as Museo Nacional de Historia since the 1940s. In addition, it houses the Modern Art Museum and the Tamayo Contemporary Art Museum.

Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67), Museo Na

Fig. 8a. Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67), Museo Nacional de Historia (Wikipedia, CC3, Rengarajang)


Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67) from Nort

Fig. 8b. Castillo de Chapultepec (*1785, 1864/67) from Northeast, used as observatory (1876/78-1883) (Wikipedia, CC3, Arturo Chavez)

 

Astronomical relevance today 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 14:45:37
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

The Castillo de Chapultepec is no longer used for astronomy,
but the National Astronomical Observatory exists until today in another site. It was first moved to Tacubaya, 1883 to 1954, then to Tonantzintla.
In addition, in 1967, the Observatorio Astronómico Nacional (OAN) was built in Sierra San Pedro Mártir, Baja California state, Northwestern Mexico.

 

References

Bibliography (books and published articles) 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 14:45:57
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

 

Links to external sites 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 14:46:19
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt


 

 

Links to external on-line pictures 
  • InfoTheme: Astronomy from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century
    Entity: 208
    Subentity: 1
    Version: 2
    Status: PUB
    Date: 2021-09-04 14:47:07
    Author(s): Gudrun Wolfschmidt

 

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