The Parque Juana de Asbaje was for much of the 20th century the garden of one of the few psychiatric hospitals in the City. Since colonial times, those of means who were deemed no longer fit for mixing with respectable society were often packed off to San Ángel, Coyoacán and especially here to San Agustín de las Cuevas.
Here, the Floresta Sanatorium opened in 1938, taking on more serious cases than could be handled in the nearby convents and retreat homes. Nearly across the from the Plaza de la Constitución, it was briefly a primary school with a focus on gardening. Rumors exist, even from that time, that the school connected to the San Agustín Temple by a mysterious tunnel beneath the Plaza. Such rumors only gathered steam as the new patients began arriving.
La Floresta remained an institution for the care of those with mental illnesses until the 1970s. The gardens provided mostly a safe place for this unfortunate population to while away their afternoons. The former home of Dr. Millán who’d begun the sanitorium, is still on one side of the park and now houses office. It’s still often the subject of rumors as to apparitions and strange occurrences especially at night.
- Juana de Asbaje, though not widely known by that name, is actually Juana Inés de Asbaje Ramírez de Santillananota, (1648-1695). She’s better known as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, best known as the nun and poet who appears on the Mexican 10o-peso bank note.
Remains of the old primary school mean that the park has avocado, tejocote (Mexican hawthorn), and pear trees. A few are over 70 years old. Still, it’s not the haunted park of nightmares, but a warm, welcoming community ecological park. There’s nearly always a lot going on, and it’s central to everything that is Centro de Tlalpan.
Hours: Daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.