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Calle de Gante

The Calle Gante is among the most under sung of pedestrian-only throughways in the city center. The street dates from only 1861 when the giant former monastery of San Francisco was closed in the wake of the Reform War.

The new street was dedicated by the prominent philologist and historian, Joaquín García Icazbalceta. It ran to the east of the old monastery on the site of the onetime graveyard. But one can see a degree of compromise already in the street’s dedication to Pedro de Gante. 

  • Pieter van der Moere, (c. 1480–1572) was known in New Spain as Fray Pedro de Gante. He was among the first Franciscan missionaries to the colonial state arriving in 1523, a full year before the 12 Apostles of Mexico who would arrive the following year. Peter of Ghent was of Flemish descent and believed to be a bastard son of Emperor Maximilian I. That may explain his early passage to the colony.
  • As he learned Nahuatl and focused on the education of young indigenous people, historians have tread lightly around his role in the broader evangelization that was occurring during his lifetime here. His book, the “Doctrina Christiana,” published in Nahuatl, remains a vital document for understanding the period. An early advocate for indigenous causes, he was a frequent correspondent with the Spanish crown.  His first school for indigenous children, that of San Jose de los Naturales, was also in this area.

The street is today most famous for the statue of Fray Pedro de Gante. This was a gift from the Belgian government in testimony to the friendship between the two countries. It was dedicated in 1976.

But those strolling the Calle Gante will remember it for the sidewalk cafes and eateries, and especially for the broad public space at the southern end.

How to get here
  • Fray Pedro de Gante, Centro Histórico, Alc. Cuauhtémoc, 06000 CDMX


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