The San Antonio Panzacola Chapel is at the corner of Avenida Universidad and the called Francisco Sosa. The latter street used to be the “Royal Road” between the towns of San Ángel and Coyoacán. Panzacola refers to an abundance of lizards in the area, at least by some accounts. Some historical buildings in the area bear carved stone lizards in reference to this name.
The little church is so old that it’s quite rightly cloaked in mystery. One legend has it that Pedro de Alvarado, the infamous instigator of the Sad Night, had it built soon after the Spanish took over. He is said to have lived on the Royal Road, although this is also generally disputed. The other problem is that the church dates from quite a bit later. Pedro de Alvarado died in 1541.
Another legend has it that a family of smugglers in the neighborhood were about to be arrested. They prayed to Anthony of Padua promising to build a church if they got off the hook. The crown authorities searched their house, but found nothin. They kept their promise, and the structure does date from the late 17th or early 18th century. Smuggling had become a major preoccupation of the Viceregal government. Its architecture is in the Baroque style and inside you can see a carved altarpiece and a Catalan vault.
The Panzacola Chapel is right next to a stone bridge over the Magdalena River. The Puente de Altillo is especially well known for having been captured by the landscape painter, Eugenio Landesio, in 1861. The bridge is thought to date to about 1768.
Declared a national monument in 1932, the San Antonio Panzacola Chapel is a Baroque Chapel of the most splendid variety. Inside, the carved altarpiece and Catalan-style vaulted ceiling are of exquisite quality and in good repair. Byzantine paintings depict the Holy Family.
Sources cited on this page:
César Ricárdez: Historia. San Antonio de Panzacola