On Sunday mornings in Mexico City, all roads lead to Chapultepec Park. At 1,695 acres, it’s said to be the largest public park in the Western Hemisphere and makes an expansive playground where families spread out for a day of eating and relaxing. Even teenagers seem to have a good time. Many families carve out time for a visit to the park’s National Museum of History, below, where admission is free to Mexicans on Sunday. The ornate palace (“El Castillo,” left) was built in the 18th century for Spanish viceroys and was once the residence of the doomed French puppet Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota. In 1940 it was converted to a museum, a fitting transformation in a country where people take fierce pride in their turbulent history and its larger-than-life figures. Some of Mexico’s most famed muralists covered the walls with vivid tales of the country’s past. Children point out their favorite heroes. Iconography makes the historical figures instantly recognizable: the bandaged head of insurgent priest Fray Hidalgo, the chiseled Zapotec features of president Benito Juarez, and the twirling mustache of revolutionary Emiliano Zapata.
PATRICIA HARRIS AND DAVID LYON