Mexico City’s Secretary of Tourism recently named the San Angel neighborhood a Barrio Magico (Magic Neighborhood). San Angel, located 12km (7.4 miles) southwest of the historic center, was once a retreat for wealthy city residents. Cobblestone streets, plazas, gardens and elegant estates are reminiscent of the neighborhood’s rich colonial past.
San Angel is home to monuments, historic residences, a former Dominican monastery, a cultural center housed in what was once a municipal palace and several interesting museums. Among them are the Risco House Museum (Plaza San Jacinto 15) with its impressive 18th century talavera tile fountain, the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Studio Museum (Diego Rivera 2 and Altavista 4) and the Anahuacalli Museum (Calle del Museo 150) that houses yet another of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera’s studios.
You’ll find several colorful markets, art galleries and shops scattered throughout the neighborhood and a good selection of restaurants, bars and cafes, many with inviting open-air terraces. San Angel’s Bazar Sabado (Saturday market), held in a two-story building located just off the main Plaza San Jacintos, makes an ideal place to browse an array of quality handicrafts from across Mexico.
Throughout the year the San Angel neighborhood hosts several festivals and cultural celebrations including the San Angel Flower Festival and the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen. San Angel is also the site of some of Mexico City’s most impressive alters during the annual Day of the Dead holiday.
The nearby residential neighborhood of Chimalistac has yet to become a top tourist destination, but what it lacks in the way of visitor attractions, it makes up for in Mexican traditions and colonial-era charm. With an atmosphere that’s more reminiscent of a small Mexican town than a big city neighborhood, Chimalistac feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Mexico City.