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The Mendicant Bridge, (Puente Mendigo) is a telling ruin on the border between the San Simon Tolnáhuac and Peralvillo neighborhoods. The two walls represent the top of the old stone bridge. They’ve been moved to accommodate the modern Calazada Viejo (or one half of it). But they stood here for many centuries. Importantly, this is the old Camino a Tenayuca, and part of the famous Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. That is, the “Royal Road to the Interior.”
The Camino Real was recognized by UNESCO in 2010. It joins five recognized UNESCO sites, beginning with the Historic Center of Mexico City, with another 55 sites along the old Royal Road. Traditionally, it began in Mexico City at the Plaza de Santo Domingo. It then continues through here to Tenayuca. The total length is some 2,560 kilometers extending nearly straight north. It ended in today’s Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States.
This tiny part of the bridge was built in 1692 during the Viceroyal Period of the Count of Galve (1688-1696). The 30th viceroy of New Spain, Gaspar de la Cerda Sandoval Silva y Mendoza (the Count of Galve) was appointed by Charles II. His reign is chiefly remembered for his campaigns against English pirates in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. He also spent a good deal of his time maintaining the Huehuetoca canal, though that problem was only finally resolved with the construction of the Gran Canal in the 19th century. For also in 1692, the flooding was bad enough that rioters set the Viceregal Palace on fire.
The bridge was dedicated to people who’d religiously dedicated themselves to begging for alms (mendicants). These would have been a first sign of entering Mexico City along the Royal Road. Today it’s one of numerous points of interest in and around the La Raza area, just north of western Tlatelolco.