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Royal and Pontifical University / Museo UNAM Hoy

primera universidadWith the fall of Tenochtitlan, a temple dedicated to Tezcatlipoca and living quarters for the priests here were destroyed. A house belonging to Catalina de Montejo was built over the ruins. By 1553, the house was converted to serves as the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico. Within the building, the first university professorship in the Americas came to be.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the University built a magnificent building on the Plaza del Volador. The first floor of a house on the corner of Relox and Moneda was converted for use as the Cantina El Nivel. This centennial establishment was witness to the political, military and social events that marked the history of the city and the country.

The houses have been restored and offer visitors archeological glimpses into the ancient past and show some of the present of the National University, today’s UNAM.

Heart of México Walking Route:  Loreto-San  Ildefonso Route

< < Ruta 5 Loreto-San Ildefonso |Palacio del Arzobispado > >

Proyecto “Corredor de Cultura Digital”.

Nombre de la investigación:
Investigación Centro Histórico, Monumentos, Edificios y Puntos de Interés (2023)

Dirección de investigación y diseño de Rutas:
Acércate al Centro A.C.
Guadalupe Gómez Collada

Coordinación e investigación histórica:
Fideicomiso del Centro histórico
Dir. Maestra Loredana Montes


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 de Santa Inés

The first target of the counter-reformational Academy of Art . . .

Casa de la Primera Imprenta (Casa de las Campanas)

One of the Center City's most important cultural centers with a small fascinating museum...

Academia Nacional de San Carlos

The first Academy and Museum of Fine Arts in the Americas...

Santa Inés Convent

The former Santa Inés Church & Convent provides some lively competition on a City Center street.

SHCP Museum of Art (Antiguo Palacio del Arzobispado)

One of the leading museums of art in the country, the SHCP resulted just from tax payments - in art!

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