Chimalistac & Vicinity


Chimalistac is a neighborhood  fantastically under-represented in guides to what international visitors should see.

In a deep fold on the edge of Álvaro Obregón, it's often mistaken for a part of Coyoacan. The neighborhood land was a stretch of orchards and gardens operated by the magnificent Carmelite monastery just up the hill to the west.

Prior to that it was a village. The Nahuatl name means "place of the white shield."

Chimalistac had been part of Coyohuacan, ruled for nearly a century by the Tepanecs of Azcapotzalco. In 1410, Coyoacan became a lordship by decree from Tezozomoc. His son Maxtla took over, and then he took the throne of all Azcapotzalco. His treatment of the Mexica in Tenochtitlan directly influenced the formation of the Triple Alliance which lead to his overthrow. In fact, he fled to Coyoacan and was there defeated in 1430.

Chimalistac was one of the principle territories of Coyoacan and all of them became tributaries to the Triple alliance, remaining so until the Spanish conquest in 1521.

The cacique (boss), Juan de Guzmán Ixtolinque became the lord of Coyoacan between 1521 and 1523. It was his grandson, Felipe de Guzmán Ixtolinque and his wife, who donated the Chimalistac estate to the Order of the Discalced Carmelites. The monastery, today the Museo de el Carmen (see below), began construction in 1615.

That would include the extensive orchards along the Rio Magdalena that flowed north eastward across the estate. These would remain part of the monastery for 250 years. Only in the 1860s, with the Religious Reform laws, would the Carmelites abandon the property.

Already by the end of the 19th century, the area was being subdivided, and most of the neighborhood's considerable historical residences date from this period. At the early 20th century, a novel, Santa (1903), by Federico Gamboa, drew even more fame to the neighborhood of its setting. It's since been adapted to multiple motion pictures which have depicted the setting.

In 2012, the City declared the neighborhood a part of the City's heritage. Residents are quite accustomed to strollers and visitors walking the streets for a glimpse of the deep past so evident here.  All of the places below can be visited in perhaps a bit more than an afternoon. Repeat visits are of course, encouraged.

Photo this page:
Luis Pedro Arroyave on Wikimedia Commons

Parque de la Bombilla & Álvaro Obregón Monument

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Puentes de Chimalistac

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Center for Historical Studies of Mexico: Carlos Slim Foundation

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Museo de el Carmen: Temple and Monastery

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