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San Ángel / Images of San Ángel / Other attractions

Neighborhood: Chimalistac
Metro: Miguel Ángel de Quevedo

Because of its location in Mexico City and its interesting past, the area of Chimalistac represents the nexus between Coyoacán and San Angel, and is today, in contrast with the importance it’s had in some significant events in Mexican culture, a place of tranquility and delicious peace.

Chimalistac gets its name from an ancient prehispanic population called Temalistac, which means “where they carve the sacrificial stone”, according to annalists it was in this place where the world renowned Stone of the Sun or Aztec Calendar, one of the maximum treasures of prehispanic art, was carved; stone which can now be admired in the National Anthropology and History Museum.

Later, in the 17th Century, the Carmelite friars developed an extensive agricultural property along the Magdalena River. In this rich orchard, which belonged to the Convent of el Carmen, several irrigation systems were built apart from various bridges, made of volcanic rock, that still extend over the dry channel, which has now turned into a road: Paseo del Río or River Walk. Legend has it, that to rehearse their sermons, the friars had to overcome the sound of the river’s running water with their voices while reciting from above one of the bridges. This could be true, as still today a pulpit can be seen on one of them, an unusual addition to this type of construction.

Another artistic legacy left behind by this religious order are two chapels, as it was traditional among them to build several, to which the friars could retire to pray in solitude. One chapel is San Sebastián Mártir which has a small, but not less beautiful, baroque altar which faces a pleasant plaza with a fountain and a stone cross. One other Carmelite construction is the Chapel of the Secret, similar to the one in Desierto de los Leones. This chapel took advantage of its acoustic singularity, in which noises made in one corner would be heard in the opposite one, and was used to make dissertations about faith.

During the 19th Century, these orchards were taken from the Church and sold to private owners, when the Chimalistac Hacienda and several houses and small properties arose; one of them in particular stands out as it inspired the novel of the writer Federico Gamboa, which was the Mexican version of Alexander Dumas’ classic, The Lady of the Camellias. Later, in the 20th Century, Chimalistac, as did its neighbors Coyoacán and San Ángel found itself within Mexico City, but conserved its old beauty and tranquility integrating the rich architectural testimonies of its past to the well kept and harmonious architecture of its surroundings.  










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