Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Friday, January 27, 2017

Discovering a Hidden Neighborhood

I was reading about Mexico City on the internet, looking for interesting places that I have not visited.  One site mentioned a neighborhood called Chimalistac, and described it as very picturesque.  I had never heard of it.  I searched for it on Google Maps, and discovered that it is adjacent to San Angel and is easily reached by the Metrobus.  So, on Wednesday, I hopped on the Metrobus (there is a stop on Insurgentes Avenue just a couple blocks from my apartment) and traveled south along the avenue.  I got off at "La Bombilla", a pleasant park dominated by a monument to assassinated President Alvaro Obregón.

I did not realize that this park, which I have visited a couple times, was actually located within the boundaries of "colonia" Chimalistac.  Just a couple blocks behind the park, I came to a little chapel built in the late 16th century, the Chapel of San Sebastián Mártir.

By the 20th century the chapel was in ruins.  The residents of the neighborhood raised money to have it restored.  A colonial altarpiece, which had been rescued from another church that had been torn down, was put in the chapel.

It is once again a functioning church, and although it is tiny, it is a popular place for weddings.

From there I explored the neighborhood.  Most of the streets are narrow and paved with cobblestones.  You feel as if you are in a village far the bustle of Mexico City even though busy Insurgentes Avenue is just a short distance away.

It is an upscale neighborhood, and many of the homes are surrounded by tall walls.  Bougainvilleas spill over many of the walls.

The land where the neighborhood stands today was once the property of the Monastery of El Carmen, just a short distance away in the neighborhood of San Angel.  The monastery had extensive orchards here.  (One of the neighborhood streets is named "Street of the Orchard".)

This small structure, built in the 1600s, was once part of the Carmelite monastery.

It served as a retreat for the monks.  Here they were allowed to break their vow of silence and converse with each other, albeit in hushed tones.

Chimalistac turned out to be a delightful discovery... a lovely, little neighborhood a stone's throw and yet a world away from the rest of Mexico City.


  1. Hola Bill!
    Had you not been to Plaza San Jacinto before? It's either in or immediately adjacent to Chimalistac.

    By the way, I'm not sure if you've checked the real estate listings, but Chimalistac is probably Mexico City's most expensive neighborhood. Houses start in the lower millions of USD, and can rise to tens of millions. What's behind those walls is large, posh, and very exclusive.


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where we are missing CDMX.

    1. I've been to Plaza San Jacinto several times. It's several blocks to the west of Avenida Insurgentes in San Angel. (Insurgentes is the dividing line.)
      Chimalistac is very obviously a wealthy neighborhood, but I didn't realize it was that wealthy.