The Temple of Nuestra Señora del Carmen is better known as the Templo del Carmen. Today, it’s best known for being an island of tranquility almost submerged in a very busy street commerce area. Dating from the late 18th century, it was originally the Carmelite chapel of the much larger Carmelite monastery. The monastery was founded at the end of the 16th century. That complex including living areas, orchards, and gardens. Though it very much dominated this area of the north of the city, the greater part was entirely destroyed by fire in the mid-19th century.
The Carmelites were originally assigned territory in the San Sebastian Atzacoalco complex in 1585. The chapel was then taken from them in 1607 and given to the Augustinians. The local people stayed loyal to the Carmelites and accompanied them to this new chapel in a place then called Cuitahualtongo.
The temple we see today was built between 1790 and 1792 although it was greatly expanded later. What remains is the result of the 1862 expulsion of the Carmelites. The Calle de los Aztecas opened in 1868 and much of the former monastery territory was then purchased by José Ives Limantour. 20 years later he negotiated with the city council to open the Calle Nueva del Carmen, which is today the Calle Republica Dominicana. He also financed the building of the Honorable Casa Nacional Del Estudiante. It still offers housing to university students from around the country, and it resulted in the renaming of much of the Plaza de Carmen, the former atrium of the church. Though it’s nearly entirely obscured by the tianguis, the plaza is today more commonly called Plaza del Estudiante.
The Templo del Carmen is today administered by a religious congregation, and it remains a living, breathing parish in a very busy part of the city. Most international visitors will encounter while exploring the many busy market places in the area.