The Ermita San Juan Tzomolco is the old chapel or hermitage of the Hacienda La Noria. It’s important for a couple of good reasons. Today, the interior is completely a part of the Dolores Olmedo Museum, and it’s re-fitted to serve as some of the museum’s best viewing galleries. But the actual church building preserves, at least in part, the oldest parts of the old ranch. It was begun in the 16th century and dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist, even then.
If not for this small church, the very name, Tzomolco, would likely be lost to history. The Nahuatl name can be translated as “Hill that breaks apart.” It serves to remind us not only that the later Rancho de San Juan La Noria stood prominently on this small hill. Maybe more important, an earlier community of Xochimilca people lived here for many generations prior to that.
The chapel we see today dates mostly from 1705. Quite likely it replaced a simpler hermitage and evangelical outreach space, usually an outdoor chapel. Later in the same century, an original wooden roof gave way to a newer series of vaulted ceilings. The entire building was remodeled in the 1990s for use by the museum.
Today, the Colonia La Noria draws visitors especially to the museum. It opened in 1994. And Dolores Olmedo herself deserves credit for having preserved much of the old Hacienda and the grounds. She purchased the property including the hermitage in 1962. Today, the collection is among the most important in Mexico City.