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La Ciudadela

After the unlikely change from a tobacco factory to a prison, this building has evolved to a library surrounded by arts, dance and handicrafts.

Now the city’s primary library, La Ciudadela has served a variety of roles over its 200 years of Mexican history. Come to this former tobacco factory to visit the library or stroll around the neighboring streets to purchase souvenirs or see local art and handicrafts.

Architect José Antonio González and engineer Miguel Constanzo built the Real Fábrica de Tabacos (Tobacco Factory) in 1807, but local residents quickly called it La Ciudadela for its citadel-like shape. Note the unadorned façades of this simple one-floor structure.

Soon after the Mexican War of Independence began in 1810, the building became a military headquarters and prison. The leader of the revolution, the Roman Catholic priest Jose María Morelos y Pavón, was held captive here before his execution. A century later, many people were executed in the building during the country’s Decena Trágica (Ten Tragic Days) ending Francisco I. Madero’s democratic government. Reflect upon this violent past as you visit the quiet library of the present.

The Biblioteca de México and the Centro de la Imagen now occupy the 200-year-old building. Do some reading or research at the library or attend a photography exhibition at the Image Center.

Outside the building find the Plaza Morelos, a square with trees, a monument to Morelos and two bronze fountains. On weekends take advantage of free dance lessons in this spot that has become known as Plaza del Danzón (Cuban Dance Square). Walk just beyond the square to the Mercado de Artesanias La Ciudadela, where you can purchase colorful souvenirs and local handicrafts from more than 300 vendors representing more than 20 Mexican states.

Find La Ciudadela in Mexico City’s historical center near Alameda Central. Take the metro and stop at Balderas. The library is open daily except holidays and the image center is open Tuesdays through Sundays. While you are in the area, visit the Palace of Fine Arts or attend a Sunday concert in Alameda Central.


Guide to Exploring around La Ciudadela


Map

Best Lodging Options Near La Ciudadela

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Fiesta Americana - Reforma ¥7,893
Fiesta Americana - Reforma

Fiesta Americana - Reforma

Paseo De La Reforma 80, Col. Juarez, Mexico City, CDMX
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Reforma, this eco-friendly hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Reforma 222, The Angel of Independence Monument, and Torre Latinoamericana. Palacio de Bellas Artes and Zocalo are also within 2 mi (3 km). Juarez Station is 10 minutes by foot and Revolution Station is 12 minutes.

    Barceló México Reforma ¥9,013
    Barceló México Reforma

    Barceló México Reforma

    Paseo de la Reforma, 1, Colonia Tabacalera, Mexico City, CDMX
       
      4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Reforma, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Teatro Metropólitan, Palacio de Bellas Artes, and Reforma 222. Zocalo and U.S. Embassy are also within 1 mi (2 km). Hidalgo Station is 6 minutes by foot and Juarez Station is 8 minutes.

      Sevilla Palace Hotel ¥7,893
      Sevilla Palace Hotel

      Sevilla Palace Hotel

      Avenida Paseo de La Reforma 105, Mexico City, CDMX
         
        3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Reforma, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Paseo de la Reforma, Monument to the Revolution, and Reforma 222. La Ciudadela and U.S. Embassy are also within 15 minutes. Juarez Station is 11 minutes by foot and Revolution Station is 12 minutes.

        City Express Ciudad de Mexico Alameda ¥7,880
        City Express Ciudad de Mexico Alameda

        City Express Ciudad de Mexico Alameda

        Revillagigedo No. 23, Centro, Mexico City, CDMX
           
          2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Downtown Mexico City, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Teatro Metropólitan and Museo Memoria y Tolerancia. Mercado de Artesanías La Cuidadela and Alameda Central are also within 10 minutes. Juarez Station is only a 3-minute walk and San Juan de Letran Station is 8 minutes.

          Hotel El Ejecutivo by Reforma Avenue ¥5,901
          Hotel El Ejecutivo by Reforma Avenue

          Hotel El Ejecutivo by Reforma Avenue

          Viena 8 Col Juarez, Mexico City, CDMX
             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Downtown Mexico City, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Paseo de la Reforma and Reforma 222. Monument to the Revolution and La Ciudadela are also within 15 minutes. Cuauhtemoc Station is 11 minutes by foot and Balderas Station is 14 minutes.

            ibis México Alameda ¥3,403
            ibis México Alameda

            ibis México Alameda

            Balderas No 49, Colonia Centro, Cuauhtemoc, Mexico City, CDMX
               
              3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Downtown Mexico City, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Mercado de Artesanías La Cuidadela, Paseo de la Reforma, and Alameda Central. Palacio de Bellas Artes and Monument to the Revolution are also within 15 minutes. Juarez Station is only a 2-minute walk and Hidalgo Station is 7 minutes.

              Camino Real Polanco Mexico ¥13,590
              Camino Real Polanco Mexico

              Camino Real Polanco Mexico

              Mariano Escobedo 700, Col Anzures, Mexico City, CDMX
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                This family-friendly Mexico City hotel is located in the historical district, within a 15-minute walk of Museo de Arte Moderno and Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art. Castillo de Chapultepec and Parque Zoologico de Chapultepec are also within 2 mi (3 km). Chapultepec Station is 16 minutes by foot and Sevilla Station is 18 minutes.

                Hilton Mexico City Reforma ¥12,721
                Hilton Mexico City Reforma

                Hilton Mexico City Reforma

                Avenida Juarez 70 Colonia Centro, Mexico City, CDMX
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Downtown Mexico City, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Paseo de la Reforma and Alameda Central. Palacio de Bellas Artes and La Ciudadela are also within 10 minutes. Juarez Station is only a 5-minute walk and Hidalgo Station is 5 minutes.