Mexico City is much more than 1 big city. It feels much more like 21 little villages that grew together, but still have their historical hearts.
A great way to explore the city and it´s hidden gems, is to visit little by little the 21 Barrios Mágicos of Mexico City. The Barrios Mágicos of Mexico City is a list of twenty one areas in the Federal District, which have been named “magical neighborhoods” in order to attract tourism to them.
Below a brief description of the first 7 Barriós Mágicos, with pictures taken by Aztec Explorers during our walking tours. We will soon update this blog with information about the other 14 Barrios Mágicos. Sign up below to receive our updates!
Exploring Colonia Roma & Romita
Colonia Roma, also called La Roma or simply, Roma, is a district located in the Cuauhtémoc borough of Mexico City just west of the city’s historic center, and in fact is no longer a single colonia (neighbourhood) but now two officially defined ones, Roma Norte and Roma Sur, divided by Coahuila Street. Currently Roma and neighbouring Condesa are known for being the epicenter of hipster subculture in the city, and rivals Polanco as the center of the city’s culinary scene. Besides residential buildings, the neighbourhood streets are lined with restaurants, bars, clubs, shops, cultural centers, churches and galleries. Many are housed in former French-style mansions dating from the Porfiriato period at the beginning of the 20th century.
La Romita is a small neighborhood located in the Colonia Roma section of Mexico City. The area began as an independent pre Hispanic village called Aztacalco, later renamed Romita. When the area around the village was redeveloped into housing for the wealthy, the village resisted and remained separate socially although officially part of Colonia Roma.
Exploring Colonia Condesa
Condesa is considered to be one of the most fashionable neighborhoods; it´s character has been compared to that of the Soho in New York and the Latin Quarter in Paris. Its avenues are wide and lined with trees. It is mostly residential but also filled with restaurants, cafés, boutiques and art galleries.
“Condesa” means “countess” and it is named after María Magdalena Dávalos de Bracamontes y Orozco, the Countess of Miravalle, whose lands stretched from what is now Colonia Roma to Tacubaya. The area began as lands belonging to two countesses in the colonial period. It now consists of three colonias or officially recognized neighborhoods: Colonia Condesa, Colonia Hipódromo and Colonia Hipódromo Condesa.
Exploring Colonia San Angel
San Angel, located 12km (7.4 miles) southwest of the historic center, was once a retreat for wealthy city residents. Cobblestone streets, plazas, gardens and elegant estates are reminiscent of the neighborhood’s rich colonial past.
San Angel is home to monuments, historic residences, a former Dominican monastery, a cultural center housed in what was once a municipal palace and several interesting museums. Among them are the Risco House Museum (Plaza San Jacinto 15) with its impressive 18th century talavera tile fountain.
The El Carmen complex is the identifying marker of San Ángel, especially the three tiled-covered domes of the church. It consists of church, former monastery and school buildings. The monastery school or “Colegio” was founded in 1613.
There are several colorful markets, art galleries and shops scattered throughout the neighborhood and a good selection of restaurants, bars and cafes, many with inviting open-air terraces.
Exploring Colonia Coyoacán
The name Coyoacán comes from Nahuatl and most likely means “place of coyotes,” when the Aztecs named a pre-Hispanic village on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco. The village of Coyoacan remained completely independent of Mexico City through the colonial period into the 19th century. The urban sprawl of Mexico City reached the borough in the mid 20th century, turning farms, former lakes and forests into developed areas, but many of the former villages have kept their original layouts, plazas and narrow streets and have conserved structures built from the 16th to the early 20th centuries. This has made Coyoacan a popular place to visit.
Exploring Santa María la Ribera
Colonia Santa María la Ribera was created in the late 19th century, for the affluent who wanted homes outside of the city limits. The colonia reached its height between 1910 and 1930. In the 1930s, the middle class moved in and a new era of construction began. The colonia began to deteriorate in the 1950s, as the city grew around it and apartment buildings were constructed. Since the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, poorer residents have moved in and economic housing has been constructed.
Today, the colonia is a mix of old mansions and homes (with over 1,000 categorized as having architectural or historic value), small shops and businesses, tenements and abandoned buildings. The colonia has one major park and two museums.
Exploring Zona Rosa
Zona Rosa (English: Pink Zone) is a neighborhood in Mexico City, just west of the historic center of Mexico City. The area’s history as a community began when it was developed as a residential district for wealthy foreigners and Mexico City residents looking to move from the city center.
The development of the area stalled during and after the Mexican Revolution, but the streets named after European capitals and remaining European style mansions are a testament to the area’s immigrant origins. The next phase in the area’s history was from the 1950s to 1980s, when it was revitalized by artists, intellectuals and the city’s elite who repopulated the area, gave it a bohemian reputation and attracted exclusive restaurants and clubs for visiting politicians and other notables. It is a major shopping and entertainment district and has also become a major tourist attraction for the city.
Exploring Bellas Artes, Alameda, Garibaldi
Plaza Garibaldi is located in historic downtown of Mexico City, a few blocks north of the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The original name of this plaza was Plaza Santa Cecilia, but in 1920, at the conclusion of the Mexican Revolution, it was renamed in honor of Lt. Col. José Garibaldi, who joined with the Maderistas in the attack on Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, during the Revolution.
The Plaza is known as Mexico City’s home of mariachi music. At all hours of the day and night, mariachi bands can be found playing or soliciting gigs from visitors to the Plaza. The Salón Tenampa, which became the home of mariachi music in Mexico City in the 1920s, is still in business on the north side of the plaza.