Chapultepec Park

If New York's Central Park included an adventure theme park and a museum of anthropology, it might well come in a close second to Chapultepec, the 543-acre masterpiece dominating the heart of Mexico City. Beset amid an area of ancient forest and undulating lowlands, Chapultepec Park is surprisingly, one of the largest in the world - hosting a castle, City Zoo and a smattering of museums at its core. Diversified by three wholly unique sections, Chapultepec offers a myriad of exciting ways to explore the lush green sprawl, with horse-led tours, boating and bicycles for hire, on a year-round basis.

Located between the Paseo de la Reforma and Circuito Interior, Chapultepec Park has remained a key focal point for recreation ever since the dynastic Aztec rulers vacationed here around A.D 700. Perched atop a dominant hill over 2,325 meters in height, scarlet tinged Castillo de Chapultepec represents a royal link that has existed since the 1800's. Home to Spanish viceroys and Mexican aristocracy for nearly three Centuries, the publicly accessible castle recounts a fascinating history of decadence and grandeur – the only official Royal residence within Latin America, ever home to a ruling European sovereign. If you can bear to drag yourself from the deluxe Royal chambers, the adjacent National History Museum is well worth a visit. Established by decree of President Lázaro Cárdenas in 1939, Chapultepec History Museum was incepted to breathe new life into the castle, restoring it from a semi state of delapidation, to a focal point of patriotic pride for the people of Mexico City. Charting an evolutionary time-line of the Mexican Marine Corps, it's also a great starting point for discovery of the city's past defense systems and strategies.

Mirroring the spellbinding grace of Chapultepec's oldest Montezuma cypress trees, glistening Lago Menor lies almost entirely bounded beside Avenida Grutas. A popular picnicking area for locals, Lago Menor is also used for recreational boating and canoeing, with vessels hire on both the North and South shore. Fringed by great arboretums of ancient beauty, the recreation area extends to Chapultepec Zoo, where rhinos, alligators and even big cats feature among a slew of prized international specimens. Top off your jungle adventure with a ride aboard the miniature train. Winding through the botanical gardens and several ecological zones, it's a great way to spot the plethora of inhabitant native wildlife – including Yucatan canaries, red tailed falcon and white-tailed hummingbirds. Convenient stop-offs include La Feria - the main theme park of Mexico City, and Museo de la Nino Papalote; the place where childish ambitions are brought to life with a whole host of interactive exhibits.

For a slice of culture, head to Chapultepec's very own art gallery - Museo de Arte Moderno. An extension of Mexico City's Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, this vibrant, airy exposition center encapsulates the best of Mexican culture with sculptures, impressionism and oil works by the likes of Diego Rivera, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Olga Costa and Vicente Rojo. Located at the confluence of the Centro and Cuauhtemoc Districts, Museo de Arte Moderno is conveniently situated for exploration of various national monuments, including the “Monument to the Nine Heroes” and Secretaria de Salud. If you were hoping for an action-packed day out, Chapultepec Park is just the ticket!

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