Contrary to what many visitors (and residents) believe, there was no historical figure named Magdalena Contreras.
The name is actually a combination that comes from the name of a 16th century Franciscan and Dominican hermitage, dedicated to Santa María Magdalena. The religious site resulted in the renaming of the pre-Hispanic community of La Magdalena Atlitic, today simply called "Pueblo La Magdalena." The "Contreras" comes from the family name lent to an area of textile mills, today called the Contreras, and which were laregly powered by the waterworks at Los Dinamos.
One of the greenest and most natural areas of Mexico City, today Magdalena Contreras is an important and growing ecological destination. There are a few areas of social, cultural and religious interest, but most people come for outdoor adventure, rock climbing, hiking, or similar forest based and outdoor activities.
Among other sites are San Jeronimo Lidice, with a stunning historical center and church, and many of the picturesque communities leading up to the entrance to Los Dinamos, La Cruz and La Magdalena among them. San Nicolás Totolapan is another of the alcaldia's "Original Towns" and as interesting as a cultural and community center of today as for its unique and very long history.