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santa martha Acatitla
Photo: AlejandroLinaresGarcia on Wikimedia Commons

Santa Marta Acatitla is one of the most famous of the original settlements of Iztapalapa.  The town holds a place a in Nahuatl legend for having harbored enemies of the Mexica people. The Nahuatl name means simple “Place of abundant reeds.” But today it’s high and dry next to the Puebla highway, and seemingly from centuries in the past.

One gets a strong idea of the east side of Mexico City that has never entirely dried up. Santa Marta likely has more in common with parts of Venustiano Carranza and Iztacalco than with much of Iztapalapa.

The Church and former monastery date from the 16th century. Underneath is a very prominent pyramid and ceremonial site. The complex was established by Franciscans who simply used the low pyramid as a foundation for their own church. A few natural motif carvings are still visible. The monastery (right in the photo above) was begun in 1608. It was converted to a visiting chapel in 1770 and placed in the parish of Mexicaltzingo.

For its great age, Santa Marta Acatitla only became part of Iztapalapa (and thus Mexico City) in the 20th century. Urbanization only occurred thereafter. Much of the town’s surface area is taken up by two penitentiaries, but don’t let that throw you off. Somehow, Santa Martha is still an ancient town. Central streets are compact and crooked. They quite obviously date from well before auto traffic. And with the market right there, it’s hard to visit without feeling right at home.



Nearest Venues

How to get here
Everardo González, Santa Martha Acatitla, Iztapalapa, 09510 CDMX

Arts & Culture

Centro Cultural Acatitlán

Nearest at 0.10 kms.


Mercado Santa Martha Acatitla

Nearest at 0.13 kms.

Arts & Culture

FARO de Oriente

Nearest at 0.77 kms.

Mexico City

Cultural Capital of the Americas