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Hermitage of Secrets: Ermita Del Secreto

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Photo: CNOVIO on Wikimedia Commons

The Ermita del secreto, the Hermitage of Secrets has never had its name truly decided. It’s also known as the Camera del secreto. Nearly always, both names are mentioned. Dating from 1620, it’s but a small vaulted chamber with a cross in the middle in the grand old neighborhood of Chimalistac.

In fact, this remarkable structure was built in the middle of the vast and famous orchards of the Carmelite order whose monastery is now the Museo de el Carmen. The Friar, Andres de San Miguel, built the rest of the monastery and temple and also supervised here. The structure is dedicated to The Virgin of Sorrows. Until recent years, neighbors still gathered here to hear preaching from the monastery.

In the 19th century, the Reform Laws expropriated nearly all of the orchards. These were subdivided and grew into the neighborhood of today. This chamber, though, remained untouched. This is due to the fact that one can whisper from one side and be heard perfect at the exact opposite side, though from anywhere else within the chamber, the sound is unnoticeable. Of course, this is said to be a loophole for the otherwise silent Carmelite brothers. They could presumably hold whispered conversations even while occupying opposites sides of the room.

But perhaps more important, one need only glance at the building to see the glaring influence of a long-ago architect on our own Modernist spirit. That’s a rare feeling indeed. At once, stark, perhaps even minimalist, it’s far older than any of the trees surrounding it. It’s a must-visit spot in a neighborhood alive with treasures.

How to get here
  • Del Secreto 16, Chimalistac, Álvaro Obregón, 01070 CDMX

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