The Seminario Conciliar (Conciliar Seminary) is the first Mexican public high school. But, before that, it was an important historic building. The “Seminary” referred to in the name of the building had been founded in 1689 and is considered the forerunner of the Archdiocese of Mexico. The Seminary was housed just east of the Cathedral until the 19th century. It was to last, as a seminary, until after the Reform Laws of the mid-19th century.
The building we see today was the former Monastery of the Camillians. Their monastic complex covered some 15,000 square meters. With a church, a sacristy, an ante-sacristy, two entrance halls, a reception room, refectory, kitchen, cemetery, corrals, a novitiate with an oratory for 20 students, living quarters for 50, another oratory chapel, pharmacy, library, oven, and laboratory – this was no small potatoes.
The Camillians, though, were expelled from the building but actually refused to leave and gave shelter to clandestine Jesuits at the same time. The façade, and parts of the interior, are the results of an attempt to re-house the seminary within the former monastery. Work began in 1909, but was interrupted by events of the Mexican Revolution.
What we see today was really the result of work done in the 1920s to again form a seat for the Archdiocese. This was eventually abandoned and the property was chosen for a first experiment in public education. Today. it’s still a three-story school building surrounding a terrific central courtyard. Any remaining religious personnel were only definitively expelled from the building with the Cristero War (1926-1929).
Secondary School No. 1 was established by the federal government in 1926. The additions of bathrooms and laboratories have changed some important parts of the original old monastery. Needless to say, as a public middle school, it’s not open to the public.
La Merced is the classic, and some will argue, the only public market in Mexico City. If you miss out on this one, you're missing out on a lot!