Santa Catarina Yecahuízotl is a gnarly, fascinating hillside (volcano-side?) town in Tláhuac. One of the seven pueblos originarios, it’s the furthest away, and the furthest from anything you expect from Mexico City.
The town was originally called Acatzinco, a word that translates as something akin to “small field of reeds.” In the Late Post-classical period, the town came to be called Cuauhtli Itlacuayan: “Eagle Feeder.” During the colonial period, the name of the saint was added, but the Yecahuizotl is much more contentious. An interpretation as “Nose of the amphibian animal” refers to the sierra’s shape, amphibian-like. “Land of ants,” or the “The third branch of the path of reeds” have also been suggested.
The town was consolidated and re-founded, and the name Yecahuitzol was added, in 1924 during the post-revolutionary land reforms. The town’s also been the subject of extensive archaeological studies. Researchers have concluded that the area has been occupied since the Early Formative period, meaning 1500-1150 BCE. A village on the northern shore of Lake Chalco engaged in fishing and agriculture since about that time. Between 650 -300 BCE, this same village maintained relationships with other waterfront populations. By about 1100 CE, it was likely ruled by the island city of Tláhuac, today’s San Pedro Tláhuac.
It is thought that during the colonial period, the patron saint of the town, Santa Caterina, was selected for the town because her feast day, November 25, coincided with that of the deities already celebrated by the town’s inhabitants. The town today consists of the barrios of La Concepción, San Miguel, Guadalupe, and Santiago. The southern neighbrhood of Colonia Ampliación Santa Catarina began to grow in the 20th century.
The Church of Santa Catarina was built in the 17th century, having begun in 1646. A preceding church had been on the site since 1559. The altarpiece, dedicated to Santa Catarina, is often cited as the finest of its kind in the region.
Visitors to the town often take to the Tequesquipa nature reserve, a section of the Sierra Santa Catarina. The Plaza del Pueblo also has an interesting cultural center on one side. That can be invaluable for those interested in Santa Catarina Yecahuízotl’s more recent hisory. Don’t miss the Kiosco Yecahuizotl and the rest of the town center. The Mercado Santa Catarina is a few blocks to the north and makes an excellent place for lunch.
Phone: 55 5860 1736
Calle Santa Catarina Y Miguel Hidalgo, Santa Catarina Yecahuizotl, 13100 CDMX