The Barrio La Asunción Colhuacatzinco is one of the celebrated Barrios Originarios, 17 of which make up the Historic Center of Xochimilco. The Chapel is about 17 minutes from the light rail station. The neighborhood starts quite a bit closer. It’s less than ten minutes walk from the central plaza and the Xochimilco Clocktower.
A neighborhood of chinampas, ancient floating gardens, a very few regular and irregular streets crisscross the neighborhood. What you’ll find are crooked alleyways, often still decorated for the most recent religious procession.
The name, in Náhuatl, might translate as “place of the Colhua people near the water.” Ethnically related to the people of the city-state of Culhuacan, today in Iztapalapa, some of them settled here in 1525. El Barrio La Asunción Colhuacatzinco was originally the 20th of the Xochimilca neighborhoods. But the same Cocoliztli epidemic that devastated the Barrio Xaltocan in 1576, reduced their numbers, entirely wiping out the populations of three neighborhoods. It was thereafter entirely closed to outsiders until the 20th century.
The Chapel of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin is the religious center of the neighborhood. It dates from at least 1680 when it was officially dedicated using carved stones from the previous temple. The tower with its four bells dates from the same century. The entire church was heavily restored in 1827. Most of the Neo-classical elements date from later in the same century.
Built with volcanic rock and limestone, it sits on top of an indigenous temple. Inside, a sculpture of the Assumption of Mary, and the organ both date from the 17th century. In 1935, the tower suffered a lightning strike. This caused extensive damage to the choir area and vault. The church remained damaged until 1993 when extensive restorations were finally made.
The feast day of the Assumption of the Virgin is celebrated on August 15 of each year. This includes fireworks and processions through the streets. The remnants of these processions are almost always visible along the various routes through the neighborhood.
To the north, El Barrio La Asunción is still very private. It’s not really accessible by foot though there are some very striking views from the canals. In fact, as the idea of smaller and app-based lodgings catches on, more than one have sprung up in these very chinampas.