coyoacan, mexico city                

           COYOTL HUA CAN
  "place from where the praise of the coyotes..."  NÁHUATL

P R E H I S P A N I C   C O Y O A C A N
Coyoacan has a surface of 54.4 sq. km. that represents 3.6% of the area (surface) of Mexico City. It is thought that Coyoacan was occupied 22 thousand years ago by nomad & hunters until the year 3,000 b.c. when there was no longer anything to hunt, so they turned to growing corn and raising turkeys, dogs and ducks.

map of Lake TexcocoTowards the year 5,000 b.c. there arrived the Olmec's which influenced in the local culture. This is proven by the human remains found in Copilco and Cuicuilco called the "men of pedregal", considered the most ancient in America. The influence of the Olmecs improved argriculture and strenghened religion by having as principal gods the Jaguar Man and the Celestial Serpent. They also established numerals by the use of lines and dots. Through the stars they created a calendar for agricultural work and another for the counting of time, but all this culture disappeared with the eruption of the Xitle volcano in the year 400 b.c.

The writings of Francisco Sosa says that Coyoacan was founded by the Toltecas in the last third of the 7th century. Then were overpowered by the Tlatoanes at the end of the 9th century, lead by the leader of the Chichimecas, Mixcoatl (the lord of the water) and took over Coyoacan, settling at Cerro de la Estrella (heal of the star). At that same time 6 Nahuatl villages left Aztlán and they arrived to the inlet of Lake Texcoco and made an alliance with the Tepanecas that were already established in the area of Atzcapotzalco (where the ants live) all the way to Coyoacan. In 1325, the Aztecs arrived to which is now Mexico City and they are under the rule of the Tepanecas.

In 1410, the Coyohucas wanted to turn the town of Coyoacan into a city, so they
asked the lord of Atzcapotzalco, "Tezozomo" and obtained permission having as
a governor the son of Tezozomoc, "Maxtl". This was the greatest era of the
Tepanecas, trade was very popular and people from far away places came to
Coyoacan to trade their goods in the mercado or "tianguis" (a market that moves).

In 1420, Tezozomoc died and in his place Toyahualtzin but Maxtla managed to
take over the thrown of his father and sent
Toyahualtzin, to be the governor of Coyoacan.
1527, a war... the lord
Netzahualcoyotl (lord of the coyotes) makes Maxtla to
surrender and in his anger humiliates and makes surrendered the Coyohucas,
then with the help of Netzahualcoyotl they kill Maxtla.

Now exists four archeology sites: Copilco, Zacatepell, Plaza de Coyoacan and
Segregada de Cuicuilco. Most of the surface of the Coyoacan area is vocanic
rock, which proves the eruption of
Xitle.

In Plaza de Coyoacan since the early days, the weekends were a trading mecca
and a place o
f artesanos, sponsored by the church. As modern day weekend
festivities still remain, the Plaza de Coyoacan now boasts 400 merchants and
artesanos on any given weekend, and for longer periods of time during
holiday festivities.

 

 

C O Y O A C A N   1 9 0 0 's
Walking through Coyoacan, you can imagine how it must have looked in the early 1900s.Today, Mexico City has sprawled to encompass the once lush vegetation of Coyoacan's tree-lined streets with colonial homes and museums, cafes, boutiques, restaurants, art studios and local artesanos that create a certain ambience and charm.

conqistador cortesThe main square in Coyoacan is the Plaza Hidalgo and Jardin Centenario. These adjoined areas are in the center of historical Coyoacan and form the zocalo with decorative hedges, fountains and trees. This plaza on the weekends is filled with people, artesanos and street vendors - a prime place for people watching from the many restaurants, cafes and bars with outside seating around the two squares.

On the north edge of Plaza Hidalgo is the Castle of Cortes, where the Spanish conquistador Cortes lived when a forest and waters separated this area from Mexico City. Now, it houses the offices of the Delegate for Coyoacan and the area's tourist office. The most prominent building in the plaza area is the Parroquia de San Juan Bautista. This church dates back to 16th century and the frescoes on the ceiling, and the artwork throughout are amazingly well-preserved.

frida kahlo y diego riveraJust a few blocks away is the Frida Kahlo museum, known as the "Blue House", on the corner of Allende and Londres. This house was the birthplace (July 6th, 1907) , periodic residence and place of death of the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The house has been restored and the rooms house artwork of Kahlo, Rivera and other famous Mexican artists, including the ancient Aztec, Maya and Olmec artists.

Trotsky and his wife moved into a house in Coyoacan in May of 1939. They had arrived in Mexico two years earlier in January of 1937. Upon arriving they had stayed a few blocks around the corner as house guests of the Mexican painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Trotsky’s house stood on a dirt road out on the edge of the Mexican countryside. The Rio Churubusco Canal flowed nearby, now a six-lane freeway runs where the canal used to. A reading lamp and a magnifying glass still rest on the long, rectangular wooden desk where Trotsky had his books and newspapers spread out and a wooden cane dangles from the back of the chair where the 60-year old Trotsky sat late on the afternoon of August 20, 1940 when he was stabbed with an ice pick and died some 22 hours later of his wounds.

As you look out from the front of the Templo de Santa Catarina, you'll see a small street that heads west from the far right corner of the plaza -- this is Calle Progresso. If you take this direction for about 2 or 3 blocks, you will find the Viveros de Coyoacan, a nature preserve and park, Coyoacan the way it used to be.

casa de mexico on facebookAbout three blocks from the Plaza Hidalgo, behind the Parroquia de San Juan Bautista (the church in the zocalo) is a diagonal street called Calle Higuera. Follow Calle Higuera for about 3 blocks and you'll find yourself at a picturesque plaza and church called Plaza de la Conchita. Across the street from the plaza is a red house, Casa Colorada, where Cortes' mistress took residence and where Cortes' wife was murdered. It is now a private home and not open to the public.

 

plaza coyoacan panarama
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