If the historic neighborhood of San Ángel in southern Mexico City is known as being charming and quaint, then its neighbor Colonia Chimalistac is its understated sibling that almost nobody talks about. It’s definitely not a tourist destination as San Ángel but it’s as picturesque and beautiful, with all of its streets made of cobblestone and lush green trees lining all of its streets, Chimalistac is so calm and peaceful in a way that’s almost impossible to find in any of the other neighborhood within the city.
“The alleys, alleyways, gardens, religious complexes, houses, and in general, the urban and architectural structures of the Chimalistac Neighborhood are declared as a tangible cultural patrimony of Mexico City in the Álvaro Obregón Delegation; and the group of festivities, artistic manifestations, entertainment activities, popular fairs, traditions, art expositions, community organization forms and other collective manifestations from the mentioned neighborhood as an intangible patrimony.” – Government of Mexico City, 2012.
The neighborhood has been a residential area since the pre-Hispanic era and during the Colonial period, it was the domain of Juán de Guzmán Ixtolinque, a prominent native who received rewards and riches for being a ruler and enforcer for the Spanish. His descendants were owners of this large area of land till one of them donated it to the Carmelitas friars. The Carmelitas used the vast terrain to build their theology and arts college. But it was during the Leyes de Reforma (“Reform Laws”) in 1855 that the friars lost the land to the government.
The National Institute of History and Anthropology lists 12 landmarks inside the Chimalistac neighborhood as historical monuments. There’s the parish of San Sebastián Martir, the shrine of secrets built by Friar Andrés de San Miguel, and the 4 masonry bridges along the beautiful Paseo del Río street, from which the “Pulpit bridge” is especially attractive due to its size and tradition, as from its highest point the students from the college would practice their sermons reciting them to the professors and other students down at the river.
The Chimalistac neighborhood is also home to the Parque la Bombilla and its majestic monument to President Álvaro Obregón, as well as commercial businesses on Insurgentes and Miguel Ángel de Quevedo Avenues. There are two Metrobus stations that service it, “La Bombilla” and “Dr. Gálvez” from Línea 1.