Photo: Catedrales e Iglesias/Cathedrals and Churches, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
The ancient barrio of Santo Domingo Huexotitlan is dedicated to Santo Domingo de Guzmán. The name in Nahuatl, Huexotitlan refers to the abundance of huexote trees, the willows that depend themselves on an ample supply of water. Today, the same neighborhood is just northwest of the Center of Azcapotzalco. During the ancient period, it was already densely populated, and like all the original settlements of Azcapotzalco, it’s sometimes referred to today as a Barrio Originario.
Today’s barrio is bisected, not just by the broad Avenida Aquiles Serdán, but by the Villas Azcapotzalco Housing Unit. To the north, still part of the ancient neighborhood, today a giant industrial baking facility takes up most of the once considerable territory. And so most people today will refer to Santo Domingo as the two sides of the avenue, most immediately surrounding the chapel (pictured). The neighborhood is famous as the birthplace of one of the Niños Heroes of the Battle of Chapultepec. José Fernando Antonio Montes de Oca Rodríguez was born here in 1829.
The chapel of Santo Domingo dates from the 18th century. Some oral traditions hold that the chapel was the burial place of the last two descendants of Cuauhtémoc, the final indigenous leader of ancient Tenochtitlan. Although many searches were undertaken in the 1920s, no remains of them were ever found.
The church has been modified numerous times over the centuries. It’s still most beloved for the stone façade and the dome that hovers over a nave in three sections. The two bell towers at the corners of the front of the building give it some visual authority over the rest of the neighborhood. The small chapel, attached at the northeast of the 18th-century structure, dates from an earlier time. And despite the many modifications, this smaller church can be said to have maintained much of its historic atrium. That of the larger church was mostly lost to the expanded avenue.