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The Fuentes Brotantes de Tlalpan National Park may have the world’s most unassuming entrance. You’ll think it’s but a neighborhood street. But traverse down the street and you’ll find a natural reserve completely isolated from the rest of the city.
The national park’s objective is to conserve the springs flowing from the slopes of the Sierra del Ajusco-Chichinauhtzin and into the lake at the middle of the park. The name could be translated simply as “Sprouting Springs National Park.” Declared a national park in 1936, today it is home to nature trails, a play area for children, a food zone, and small lake that’s home to ducks, fish, and turtles. The original decree allocated some 129 hectares. Many had been part of the Tochtihuitl Ranch but were already popular recreation areas.
Today the park is only eight hectares, all within the town of Santa Úrsula Xitla. The forest consists of cedar and eucalyptus trees, with a few oaks and pines.
The most famous tale of the area is that of “La Llorona de las Fuentes Brotantes,” or crier of the sprouting springs and forest. The legend tells of a woman dressed in white with long flowing black hair. She was seen in the forest by a man returning from work, after midnight. She is believed to be overcome with grief and there is no shortage of witnesses who’ve heard her weeping, her cries and howls are even said to ring through the trees, even at all hours.
Another legend refers to a park worker who met the fabled Llorona. Around the time when the National Park was declared, one Dionisio Yepes was appointed as caretaker. One night while walking the grounds, he observed a woman on the edge of the lake, in distress and asking for help. As he approached her, the impact of what he saw was so great that he fell unconscious. The next day when he was found still on the ground he was so perplexed and was blind thereafter.
On the park drive that loops from Insurgentes Sur and back, don’t miss the beloved Calvary Chapel. It’s been a landmark in the neighborhood for centuries.