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Royal and Pontifical University / Museo UNAM Hoy

Museo UNAM Hoy

The Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico (Real y Pontificia Universidad de México) is a university  founded by Royal Decree in 1551. Widely considered the first university founded in North America, the National University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru, had been chartered a few months earlier.

Renamed the University of Mexico after Mexican Independence, the 19th century saw many attempts to close the “pontifical” part of the school. When it was definitively closed in 1865, many of its secular departments, among them law and medicine, continued operating.

At the very twilight of the Porfirato period, these decentralized colleges of higher education were merged under Justo Sierra Méndez. He was then the leading voice of the infamous Cientificos, Porfirio Díaz’s intellectual cabal. The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) was thus founded.

The UNAM Hoy Museum occupies one of the original universty’s buildings. The museum’s mission is relay the importance of both institutions to the history of the City and the country. The museum is part of the UNAM Institute for Research on the University and Education.

The UNAM Hoy Museum

Visitors to the museum see a window into the area’s archaeological significance. Displays include the remains of an ancient temple, colonial walls, a 19th-century staircase, and just some of the many artifacts discovered during the building’s renovations.

Subsequent galleries cover the presence of the old university district. Nearly all of it was within the city center. Most prominent are the Old College of San Ildefonso and the Academy of San Carlos. Many other building make up the university’s footprint on the city center.

A more detailed timeline of the history of the university follows. A digital map delineates the UNAM’s presence throughout the country. This includes many divergent scientific research centers in truly far flung places.

The university’s literary, bibliographic, and media production centers precedes a display of the many awards and honors the school has received over the years.

Parts of the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico, although not part of the Museo UNAM Hoy, can be visited at the UNAM Palace of Autonomy just down calle Monedas.

How to get here


Herdez Foundation Museum

Nearest at 0.05 kms.

La Casa de las Sirenas

Nearest at 0.2 kms.

Recomendado por CANIRAC

El Mayor

Nearest at 0.2 kms.

Recomendado por CANIRAC


Templo Mayor Archaeological Site & Museum

One of the most important sites in the city, even today, don't miss the chance to visit the Templo Mayor.

El Zócalo

There's no center like the very center, and in Mexico City, that means el Zócalo!

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City

The first Cathedral to have been built in the Americas.

Garden of the Triple Alliance

One of the most easily historical corners in the city center, it's a monument, a garden and much more.

Casa del Marqués de Prado Alegre

Even with a McDonald's, one of the most prestigious addresses on calle Madero shines out from the past.

Practical guide and services