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San Francisco de Asis, Tepito

Photos courtesy of the San Francisco de Asis – Tepito Facebook page

The Church of San Francisco de Asis in Tepito is still one of the major landmarks after nearly 300 years. It’s not easy to find, not least because so much of the surrounding neighborhood is dedicated to the thickest of tianguis. Sales booths in the streets ofdten reach right up to the sky. Nevertheless, there is a colonial era, very old church in there.

Saint Francis was founded by Franciscans at the end of the 16th century although they originally dedicated their parish to San Antonio. The church we see today was rebuilt in 1734, presumably on top of an earlier chapel. The bell tower was begun in 1743. The baroque façade still bears a sculpture of St. Francis of Assisi.

Most famously of all though, some scholars believe that the site of the church marks the site of an ancient temple called, in Náhuatl, Teocaltepiton. That translates simply as teocalli– ‘temple’ and tepiton – ‘little. The name of the famous neighborhood derives from this little temple. In fact, the original hermitage was known as San Francisco Tepitón. That was to distinguish if from the grand monastery of San Francisco “El Grande”.

Tepito first appeared on a map in 1550. It was then a sub-neighborhood of Tlatelolco and remained so until 1717. In 1770, a famous reorganization of Mexico City’s 13 parishes made it part of the parish of Santa Catarina Virgen y Mártir. At that time, the parish was known as the Barrio of Indians of San Francisco Tepito. It remained so until the formation of the Colonia Morelos in 1884.

By that time, the plaza in front of the church was already crowded by merchants moved here from the Zócalo area. Today, it’s difficult to actually find the plaza due to the twists and turns of the markets in all of the surrounding streets. The one break, of course, is the famous Campo Maracaná. Named for a football stadium in Rio de Janeiro, it began in the wake of the earthquake of 1957, and likely on the site of former homes and buildings. The people of Tepito simply reclaimed it despite plans for a garden or park. It was named the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Social and Sports Center in 1968, and renamed the Deportivo Maracaná in the early 1970s.

Today, the Feast of San Francisco on October 4 each year often occupies some of the football pitch. Entirely renewed in 2021, it’s one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the neighboring church.

How to get here
  • La Rcda., Barrio Tepito, Col. Morelos, Alc. Cuauhtémoc, 06200 CDMX
  • +525555268304

Nearby

Mercado de Tepito

Nearest at 0.16 kms.

Morelos Monument, Colonia Morelos

Nearest at 0.32 kms.

Concepción Tequipeuhcan, Tepito

Nearest at 0.46 kms.

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