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The Plaza de San Loreto is most famous today for containing the celebrated fountain of Manuel Tolsá. The fountain had once graced the intersection of Bucarelli and Barcelona streets on the other side of the Centro Histórico. But the plaza itself is a fitting place for such a fountain.
Dating all the way back to somewhere between 1556 and 1562 (that’s as accurate as the records get), much of the area is believed to have been a garbage dump. By the beginning of the 18th century, the Santa Teresa la Nueva convent was built here to house a group of Carmelite nuns. Originally called the Plaza Santa Teresa, it wasn’t long before the entire neighborhood was improved. The Templo Santa Teresa is across Calle Loreto on the east side of the plaza.
The Church of Nuestra Señora de Loreto borders the plaza on its northern side. It’s technically the last colonial era church built in the city. Construction took place between 1806 and 1819.
The original fountain in the plaza was simply to provide water for the neighborhood. By 1925, a fountain designed by Manuel Tolsá was moved here. Construction at the intersection of Avenida Bucareli and Calle Barcelona left no room for the late 18th-century fountain there.
A 1968 remodeling unfortunately caused the destruction of Mexico’s first synagogue. That 1934 temple had been on the Plaza’s south side of the plaza. It was during this remodeling that the statue of Erasmo Castellanos Quinto was dedicated in the Plaza de Loreto.
Born in Veracruz in 1879, Erasmo Castellanos Quinto was a lawyer who dedicated himself entirely to letters. A writer, poet, and professor, he taught at both the National Preparatory School and at the UNAM Department of Philosophy and Letters. Most of his biography is lost. He said to have offered performative lectures from memory on The Iliad and the Odyssey, The Divine Comedy and the on Don Quixote de la Mancha. He was buried in epithets that remarked he was a Cervantist, an exalted Hellenist, and a noted medievalist.
Note: Don’t confuse the Plaza de Loreto with the Plaza Loreto shopping center near San Ángel.