Xochimilco Tourist Attractions
The little town of Xochimilco (Náhuatl, "place of the flower-fields"), on the southern outskirts of Mexico City on the far side of the Anillo Periférico Sur, with a population which still includes many Nahua Indians, was probably founded at the end of the 12th C by Toltec refugees from Tula. In the 13th c. a Náhuatl-speaking nomadic tribe related to the Aztecs settled here; they later became known as Chinampanecs owing to the "chinampa" system of cultivation which they practised.Under this system the crops were planted on small rafts covered with mud and water plants and held together by a retaining screen of interwoven reeds, which eventually became anchored to the lake bottom by the growth of roots.The abundance of water and the fertilising effect of the mud enabled these "floating gardens" to produce up to seven crops a year, ensuring a plentiful food supply for Tenochtitlán.Around 1430 Xochimilco was conquered by the Aztecs, saw bitter fighting during the Conquest (1521) and was finally burned down by the Spaniards.This is still an important flower and vegetable-growing region. Little remains of the former lagoon. In the 1970s and 1980s the region suffered from lack of water and from pollution, but - with help from UNO - further waterways have now been opened up and an ecological park covering 3000 ha (7500 acres) is being laid out. The "floating gardens" are now once again a favourite place for week-end outings with both the locals and tourists, who can sail along these waterways on brightly-painted and flower-decked boats known as "trajineras", accompanied by other boats selling food, drinks and handmade articles or bearing bands of mariachi musicians. Xochimilco has now been declared a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO.
In Xochimilco itself the parish church of San Bernadino is worth a visit. The present church, on the site of an earlier Franciscan foundation (1535), was probably built about 1590, and is thus one of the oldest in the country. Note the Indian-Plateresque façade of the main door, a rare 16th c. Renaissance retablo, the 17th c. choir-stalls and a crucifix with a figure of Christ formed from maize stems in a typically Indian technique ("de caña"). The Saturday market is well worth a visit. The same is true of the new Archaeological Museum, at the junction of Avenida Tenochtitlán and Calle La Planta. On display are mammoth bones over 1000 years old and pre-Hispanic finds from the region.
Museo Dolores Olmeda Patiño
The recently opened Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño is to be found on Avenida México 5843 in the private house known as "La Noria Xochimilco" beloning to Dolores Olmedo, one-time lady companion of Diego Rivera. It houses a number of pictures by Rivera himself and by Frida Kahlo. There are also handicrafts and pre-Columbian items on display.
Address: Avenida México 5843, Mexico City, Federal District (Distrito Federal) 16030, Mexico
Opening hours: 10am-6pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Mexican Independence Day (Sep 16), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in MXN: Adult $10.00
Useful tips: Free admission on Tuesdays.