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Immaculate Conception Chapel, Villa Milpa Alta

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Capilla_de_la_Purísima_Concepción-Milpa_Alta2
Photo: Thania Anahi on Wikimedia Commons

The Immaculate Conception Chapel is the namesake of the Barrio Concepción in Villa Milpa Alta. The neighborhood takes up much of the east side of the Historic Center. It’s a remarkable and historic chapel and the neighborhood is too. The area was known as Xaxahuenco for the calpulli, similar to a tribal group name, during the ancient period.

In English, the current name gets translated to “Immaculate.” The church is more officially the Capilla de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, la Purísima Concepción, La Conchita, and the Capilla de la Inmaculada Concepción. Such a variety of names is much more common among chapels which are dependents of larger parish organizations. That’s the case here. Like almost all the chapels in Villa Milpa Alta, this one is a dependent of the Parroquia de la Asunción de María.

The church began as a hermitage. In 1767, the Franciscans built a smaller building here. This was later expanded and only finished in 1886. This was again expanded beginning in 1948 and mostly finished in 1952.

The atrium is thought to have existed since the 18th century, but the stone wall and inverted arches was completed in the 20th century. The strong Neo-Classical façade dates from the mid-20th century. The lateral facades are reinforced with external buttresses, and three drainpipes extend from each side. The dome rests on an octagonal drum framed by paired columns. The dome is covered in tile and topped with a lantern, cupola and cross.

The church is profusely decorated with mural paintings and gilded moldings. The altar is backed by a semicircular balustrade of Neo-Classical columns. But perhaps it’s the balustrade on the upper outside level (shown above) that’s most uncommon. With the dome, it’s an exceptionally  photogenic church.

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