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Santiago Ahuizotla

Santiago Ahuizotla

Santiago Ahuizotla is one of the ancient neighborhoods of the old Azcapotzalco. During the early 20th century, the neighborhood was extensively excavated for evidence of ancient cultures. Human burials and ceramic remains revealed that the area was populated at the time of and influenced by the Teotihuacan civilization. That was nearly a thousand years prior to the rise of the Tepaneca people of Azcapotzalco. Most of these digs occurred directly east of the church and were since re-buried.

As a fairly important ancient site, it drew the attention of the Dominicans quite early. They completed the temple here already by the 17th century. It’s very likely built on top of an ancient Tepaneca temple or ceremonial site. There are records of an ancient ceremony dedicated to the god, Tlaloc.

  • The Nahuatl name, Ahuizotla can be translated as “place of the ahuizotl.” This refers to the Ahuizotl or water dog. A mythical being of the Nahuatl cosmogony and based on the tropical otter (Lontra longicaudis), the Ahuizotl had a hand at the end of his long tail. He could grab naïve swimmers and waders and drag them to Tlallocan, the realm of Tlaloc. The abducted became the god’s servants for all eternity.

The church we see today is still surrounded by a giant atrium. That’s somewhat unusual in post-Reforma Mexico City. Most church atriums were made into public, civic squares in the reformed 19th century. The façade, also unusual, has three entryways elaborated in quarried stone. Above is a smooth triangular alfiz framing the oculus.

The interior consists of the single nave divided into three sections covered by a vaulted ceiling. A fourth section consists of the presbytery with a neoclassical altarpiece. This is crowned by an octagonal dome.

It’s a remarkable and unusual church. Santiago Ahuizotla is, likewise, a remarkable and ancient neighborhood. Today, a few international visitors may be found wandering these central streets. Roughly a half-hour walk from Metro Camarones, the neighborhood is often visited in combination with visits to San Miguel Amantla and San Pedro Xalpa to the north.


How to get here
  • José Rosas Moreno, Col. Santiago Ahuizotla, Azcapotzalco, 02750 CDMX
  • 55 5359 4742


Mercado Jardín 23 de Abril

Nearest at 0.59 kms.

San Pedro Xalpa

Nearest at 0.59 kms.

San Miguel Amantla, Azcapotzalco

Nearest at 0.78 kms.


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The ancient neighborhood was sacred to the Tepanec people, the chief rivals to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan.

Santo Tomás Tlamatzingo

A crooked town center to one of Azcapotzalco's oldest settlements...

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