Santiago Tulyehualco is one of the most important of the 14 original settlements in Xochimilco. It’s also an important town in the string of Chinampa Towns that stretch to the City limits in the southeast. These towns survive even today principly through agriculture, and often through ancient methods. The City has learned a great deal from their methods of water, wetlands, and ecological management.
Tulyehualco is an ancient settlement. The Nahuatl name translates to “place among the tule trees.” On the northern slopes of the Teuhtli Volcano, it’s thought to have been founded in about 1181 by a group of Xochimilca people.
By the year 1409, seven Mexica families conquered Malacaxtepec Momoxco, today’s Milpa Alta. They ended up ruling this area, too. It only grew in importance as the point at which one of Cuitlahuac II’s dikes touched ground. The point was to separate saltier water to the east in Lake Chalco, keeping the Xochimilco lake fresh. The dike doubled as an elevated causeway. A major canal then ran along the causeway. During the colonial period, it served as a major transit route between here and Tlaltenco (which has a twin archway).
Today the town is most famous for a pair of annual festivals. That of Alegria & Oliva (Amaranth & Olives) takes place each February. Another celebrating ice cream and sorbet takes place in April. Both festivals are centered around the town market and the Parque Tulyehualco. Just north of the town church and public square, it’s Santiago Tulyehualco at its finest.