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Mexico Travel - Villa Obregon, Coyoacan, Churubusco
( Originally Published 1939 - Presented For Historical Purpose )
I WOULD SUGGEST THAT YOU MAKE THIS EXCURSION IN THE afternoon, if possible, for then you will have the best chance of getting a good view of Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl, although a very pleasant way to make the trip is to go to San Angel Inn for lunch and then continue the trip in the afternoon. On the way from Mexico City to Villa Obregon, you might enjoy stopping for a few minutes at the nurseries which supply the Mexico City parks with flowers. There is a lovely VIEW here of the twin volcanoes. The main automobile route from Mexico City to Villa Obregon passes in front of the gate.
VILLA OBREGON, which can be reached either by trolley or by motorcar, was once known as San Angel and is one of the most attractive suburbs of Mexico City. Although the MONUMENT TO OBREGON is considered the finest modern work of its kind in Mexico, the great sight in San Angel is the CHURCH AND CONVENT OF EL CARMEN. There is a chapel in the church of El Carmen which, although dilapidated, still retains traces of great beauty. In the church there is a porcelain statue of the Virgin which is extremely beautiful, and in a crypt in the basement of the church are mummified corpses of nobles and important men of the church. Here again from the roof you get a fine view of the twin volcanoes.
The SAN ANGEL INN, occupying an early seventeenthcentury Carmelite convent, is really worth while as a sight. Across the street from it is the HOME OF DIEGO RIVERA, constructed in the modern style, and a great contrast to the San Angel Inn.
Near Villa Obregori is EL PEDREGAL, an extraordinary flow of lava 6 miles long by 2 1/2 miles wide. It begins immediately south of Villa Obregon, and it is said to have come either from Adjusco or Xitle. No one knows how old the lava flow is. It is dangerous to explore without a guide, but probably the best place to see it is at Copilco, where a tunnel has been driven under it and where in 1917 a cemetery was discovered under the lava.
This cemetery is the only vestige yet found of the oldest known civilization on the American continent. It is perhaps 10,000 years old, and the skeletons can still be seen in the original positions in which they were found.
COYOACAN was an Indian village even before the Aztecs came to Mexico. It was the first Spanish settlement near the capital, and the MUNICIPAL PALACE OF COYOACAN was the first building to be constructed immediately after the Conquest. It is only fair to tell you that there is some dispute on this point, and that some authorities deny that any part of the original structure remains, maintaining that the present building was erected by Cortes' descendants on the original site of the first building.
The church of SAN JUAN BAUTISTA is of interest largely because of the pronounced Aztec influence in the carving of the decorations. The little CHAPEL OF SAN FRANCISCO is also interesting, as is the celebrated CASA ALVARADO, with its lovely pink facade. The Casa Alvarado dates from the early days of the Conquest. Here again there is a difference of opinion on historical background, some authorities saying that the building was built by Cortes' trusted lieutenant Pedro de Alvarado, and others maintaining that it definitely was not.
Coyoacan is interesting historically because it was here that Cortes' wife was found strangled to death. There were rumors current at that time to the effect that Cortes himself committed the murder, because he was irritated by her jealousy.
Coyoacan was the scene of the torture of Cuauhtemoc. He was the last of the Aztec princes, and in an endeavor to make him reveal the hiding place of the great treasure of Moctezuma, Cortes ordered his feet to be covered with hot oil and placed over burning coals. When one of his companions, who was being tortured with him, groaned in agony, Cuauhtemoc said, in the words that have since become famous, "Do you think I am lying on a bed of roses?"
CHURUBUSCO was once an important Aztec settlement. About all that is left of interest now is the FRANCISCAN CONVENT OF ST. MATTHEW, which stands On the former site of the Aztec temple. In this convent you will see the magnificent TILED DOME arid the fine old CHAPEL OF SAN ANTONIO ABAD. The chapel was at one time completely covered with tiles, although a good many of them have fallen off. The convent is being converted into a MUSEUM and contains some extremely interesting collections, particularly the collection of old colonial carriages. The LIBRARY 1S famous for its parchment-bound books.
Another place nearby is TLALPAM. Except for the beauty of the town itself, there is little to see here. Many of the old buildings date from the early days of the Conquest, and the place is celebrated for its beautiful trees and its exquisite flowers. In the leading church, known as SAN AGUSTIN DE LAS CUEVAS, there is a clock originally made for the Cathedral in Mexico City. The interior of the church is interesting on account of its huge pillars, its fine altar, and some paintings which are reputed to be by Cabrera.