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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 ¥7,188
Fiesta Americana - Reforma

Fiesta Americana - Reforma

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

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    Barceló México Reforma ¥9,726
    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.

      Hotel El Ejecutivo by Reforma Avenue ¥5,492
      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 5-minute walk of Paseo de la Reforma, Cuauhtemoc Monument, and Teatro Diego Rivera. Biblioteca Benjamin Franklin and Cristobal Colon Monument are also within 10 minutes. Cuauhtemoc Station is 11 minutes by foot and Balderas Station is 14 minutes.

        Hotel Fontan Reforma Mexico ¥5,469
        Hotel Fontan Reforma Mexico

        Hotel Fontan Reforma Mexico

        Paseo De La Reforma 24, Mexico City, CDMX
           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Downtown Mexico City, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Paseo de la Reforma, Alameda Central, and Cristobal Colon Monument. Palacio de Bellas Artes and Museo Nacional de la Revolucion are also within 15 minutes. Hidalgo Station is only a 2-minute walk and Juarez Station is 7 minutes.

          Sevilla Palace Hotel ¥6,203
          Sevilla Palace Hotel

          Sevilla Palace Hotel

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

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            ibis México Alameda ¥5,002
            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 La Ciudadela, Paseo de la Reforma, and Alameda Central. Cristobal Colon Monument and Teatro Diego Rivera are also within 15 minutes. Juarez Station is only a 2-minute walk and Hidalgo Station is 7 minutes.

              Hilton Mexico City Reforma ¥13,075
              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. Torre Latinoamericana and Palacio de Bellas Artes are also within 10 minutes. Juarez Station is only a 5-minute walk and Hidalgo Station is 5 minutes.

                Galeria Plaza Reforma ¥8,389
                Galeria Plaza Reforma

                Galeria Plaza Reforma

                Hamburgo 195 Col Juarez, Mexico City, CDMX
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Reforma, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Paseo de la Reforma and The Angel of Independence Monument. U.S. Embassy and Diana the Huntress Fountain are also within 10 minutes. Sevilla Station is 6 minutes by foot and Insurgentes Station is 10 minutes.