Behind the bullet-pocked walls of a former monastery, this unique museum chronicles the history of the foreign invasions and civil wars that Mexico has endured since the fight for independence from Spain.
Even the walls of the monastery are a testament to this turbulent history. They are pockmarked with the holes made by musket balls, cannonballs, and bullets fired during the Mexican-American War, the 19th-century War of the French Intervention in Mexico, and the later Mexican Revolution of 1910.
Given the theme of the museum, the atmosphere within the old monastery is unsurprisingly a rather somber and dark one, but there is much to see here that is of great interest and historical significance. The interior halls are lined with weaponry such as pistols, muskets, rifles, bombs, grenades, bayonets, and swords from these many conflicts. They are displayed alongside other military paraphernalia, including drums, bugles, telescopes, binoculars, equestrian gear, bloodstained flags, and uniforms.
Many of the artifacts on display have fascinating backstories; some highlights include the swords of the war of independence, the death mask of Emperor Maximilian (installed as Emperor of Mexico by the French in the 19th century), the commemorative plaque and flag of the San Patricio battalion (which fought against the U.S. in the Mexican-American War), the Mexican flags of the Alamo, Apache bows and arrows and knives, and the pistols of the Mexican Revolution.
But it’s not all war and bloodshed here. You can also find several lovely ornamental and herb gardens throughout the winding halls of the museum that are worth exploring. These areas once served as the courtyard of the monks who occupied the monastery for almost three centuries, and are now kept for the enjoyment of visitors, somewhat ironically offering a peaceful sanctuary of calm in an otherwise hectic and chaotic borough of Mexico City.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Mondays) and the entrance fee is 70 pesos.