Well north of the center of Mexico City, in the thick urban sprawl that are the outer limits of the city in neighboring Estado de Mexico (“The State of Mexico”, one of the 32 states in Mexico) there’s a peculiar figure that stands out among the ordinary buildings of Tlalnepantla. It’s the Castillo de Barrientos, that at one time could be seen from any part of Atizapán de Zaragoza, but that in recent times has come to be obscured by the surrounding warehouses and other buildings of this industrial part of town. Tlalnepantla is its corresponding municipality within the State of Mexico, but it’s precisely located in the “Poblado de San Pedro Barrientos”.
The “Castle of Barrientos” is said to have been built in the XVII century by famed robber Don José Barrientos, a Spanish man who robbed the stagecoaches that traveled to the main capital of the country; Barrientos then shared the loot with the poor people of the region, earning a sort of Robin Hood image that was popular in the region. It’s said the building was abandoned after the Independence of Mexico. When American troops were advancing to the Castle of Chapultepec in 1847 they were confused by this other Castle at the northern border of the city and were ready to attack it, but someone eventually cleared the situation and the Castillo de Barrientos remained in its place.
The “Castle” remained deserted for a long period, which of course only fueled the legends and myths surrounding it. As is common with the unknown (and people did not know much about the “Castle”) it was viewed as something spooky, with tales of satanic cults inside performing ghastly rituals and writing evil things on the walls; also the “Castle” was supposed to be, you probably guessed it, haunted. Yet it gained notoriety as it was the setting for the films of “Santo” and “Blue Demon” two very popular luchadores (“wrestlers”) from the 1950s who had a fierce rivalry inside the ring but appeared together in films, where they were always fighting a multitude of sci-fi monsters and villains who aimed to take over the world.
The Castle’s current date is less fantastic and it now houses a police academy, for which construction the Castle suffered several modifications, even though its distinctive tower still stands tall. It’s now more of a symbol of a bygone era, enveloped by the relentless metropolis.