The walls of both the courtyard and the stairway bear one of the most famous murals by Diego Rivera
The palace was built in 1523 from tezontle (blood stone), a brownish-red volcanic stone. Cortés had the building foundation put on top of the levelled new palace of Montezuma II. The National Palace is one of the oldest and most impressive buildings in Mexico City. Currently, it serves as the office of the president and contains many administrative offices; in colonial times, it was the domicile of the Spanish viceroy and later it became the office of the presidents of the republic. The palace was rebuilt and enlarged several times throughout its history and then, during the insurgency of 1692, it was partially destroyed. President Calles added the third floor during his term in office in the 1920s. The Freedom Bell (Campana de Dolores) occupies its place above the central portal and underneath the Mexican coat of arms. The priest Miguel Hidalgo rang this bell on 16 September 1810 in Dolores when he called the independence movement to action. Every year on 15 September, one hour before midnight, the Mexican president repeats Hidalgo’s Grito de Dolores (cry of Dolores) from the balcony of the National Palace while the freedom bell rings. The inside of the palace consists of 14 courtyards and a large number of halls.
Visitors can now walk through the rooms off the northern inner courtyard that were once the living quarters of Benito Juárez. Furniture and personal items in the room where Juárez died in 1872 commemorate the great president. Visitors can also see some of the halls and the chamber of deputies in which the reform constitution was adopted in 1857. The constitution of 1917 and the reform constitution are on display. The National Palace also houses the main national archive with interesting historic documents and the Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada, one of Mexico’s largest and most important libraries.