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San Bartolo Ameyalco
Photo: Catedrales e Iglesias/Cathedrals and Churches Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

San Bartolo Ameyalco is an original village of Álvaro Obregón. High in the mountains of the west of the City, it’s a rugged traditional culture. The name Ameyalco comes from the combination of the Nahuatl words “cuautla” (forest) and “ameyalli” (source or spring). It’s referenced within the Mendocino Codex with a glyph depicting a gushing spring.

A spring called the Ojo del Agua, eye of water, still supplies much of the town’s water.

The Town

Ameyalco is believed to have been founded between 1450 and 1500, although artifacts push settlement here far further back. The original inhabitants are believed to have been Tlaltecos i.e.; fishermen. They are believed to have settled around the Xaxalpa lagoon which reulted from the freshwater spring.

According to tradition, they arrived from Chimalhuacán far east across the City and under the dominion of Texcoco. The Huey Tlatoani Chimalpopoca is said to have permitted them to remain here in exchange for daily deliveries of fish.

With the fall to the Spanish, the town became part of the Marquisate of the Valley of Oaxaca. The town of San Bartolo Ameyalco was founded soon thereafter and dedicated to San Bartolomé Apóstol as is the church to this day.

The Church

The Franciscans built a first chapel of tile and adobe here in 1534. By the 17th century, the church we see today was built. A larger building was erected next door in 1979. Locals call these two buildings, “El Puente,” The Point.

In addition to religion, the Spaniards imported animals that did not exist on the continent and that played a great role in the daily tasks of New Spain. The climatic conditions of San Bartolo Ameyalco and the natural resources favored the good performance of agriculture and livestock. Its efficiency in the field was due to the development of sowing techniques such as the use of excrement as compost to fertilize the land. In addition, the villagers were able to identify the optimal dates for plowing the land, sowing and harvesting.

As a complement to agriculture, fruit trees were planted that proliferated due to their ability to adapt to the cold climate, complementing and satisfying people’s nutritional needs. The capulín, the tejocote, the pear, the apple, the plum, the fig, among others, stand out. Being a place surrounded by hills and vegetation, the fauna there was very diverse. You could find deer, snakes of various species (among which the rattlesnake stands out), as well as rabbits, squirrels, wild chickens, buzzards and a great variety of birds such as: huitlacoche , spring, goldfinch, hummingbird, pigeon, among others. .

During the New Spain stage , the life of the locals underwent various changes: the daily tasks of the people were transformed little by little. In addition to livestock and agriculture activities , coal and wood were marketed , which they obtained from the felling of trees on the hill. The businesses were expanding beyond the limits of the town and the already known places. For many years they paid the Marquesado del Valle de Oaxaca a contribution called canon, 10 gold pesos, for the right to “own property.” However, in 1879 Between several inhabitants they paid 310 gold pesos to have the deeds of their properties and stop paying the canon.

During the time of the Mexican Revolution, the town of San Bartolo Ameyalco had an important role in the army of Emiliano Zapata . The Zapatistas arrived in San Bartolo when they were persecuted and defeated by Venustiano Carranza’s army . They settled in one of the hills belonging to the town, which to this day is known as “El Campamento”.

By the time the Zapatistas arrived, the villagers suffered innumerable damages, as in their battles against the Carrancistas they looted houses, robbed women, killed some men and destroyed crops, leaving them in ruins. To protect their most valuable belongings, they buried them under the church and houses. Among them were the bells and the Christ of the chapel.

Legends say that in the oldest houses of San Bartolo, there are still some objects that were buried at this time. It is also said that in San Bartolo there are hidden tunnels that members of the army used to flee from their enemies, but only a few people knew about them. As in the rest of the country, there were rights and freedoms that indigenous peoples did not enjoy. For this reason and for other injustices experienced, young people from San Bartolo joined Zapata’s army. Taking into account their ideals about building a new nation that includes democracy, freedom and justice.

There are several people who are direct heirs of the stories, the facts and events of history and daily life, these stories have been preserved from generation to generation and this is how the town is known.

In the nineties, the town of San Bartolo Ameyalco underwent a modification in its limits, due to the accelerated and disorderly population growth. Lands that were not originally of a residential character, were densely populated by irregular human settlements. The felling of trees and irregular construction have become a big problem for the town because little by little urbanization has affected the hills, in fact, many of these illegal constructions already have public services such as electricity, water and drainage.

Nearest Venues

How to get here
Hidalgo No. 1, San Bartolo Ameyalco, Álvaro Obregón, 01800 CDMX

Mexico City

Cultural Capital of the Americas