Xochimilco: Wikis

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Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Trajinera boats in Xochimilco
State Party  Mexico
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, iv, v
Reference 412
Region** Latin America and the Caribbean
Inscription history
Inscription 1987  (11th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
Xochimilco within the Federal District
Brightly painted trajineras.
A farmer weeding his crops on one of Xochimilco's remaining chinampas

Xochimilco is one of the sixteen delegaciones or boroughs within Mexican Federal District. It is located within Mexico City, 28 kilometres (17 mi) south of the city center.[1] To the north it has borders with Coyoacán, Tlalpan and Iztapalapa; to the west with Tláhuac; and to the southeast with Milpa Alta. It covers an area of 122 km2; it is the third biggest delegación.

Xochimilco is better known for its extended series of canals — all that remains of the ancient Lake Xochimilco. Xochimilco has kept its ancient traditions, even though its proximity to Mexico City influence that area to urbanize. Movies such as María Candelaria (1940) have given that area a romantic reputation where all inhabitants travel in colourful trajineras (Xochimilco boats) between chinampas covered with flowers.

Today, agriculture is an important but minor activity—the canals representing only a small fraction of their former extent, Chinampería (chinampa-related activities). It was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1987.[1]

The name Xochimilco comes from Nahuatl, and means "flower field place". It is pronounced [ʃoːtʃiˈmiːɬko] in Nahuatl and [sotʃiˈmilko] in Spanish.

Contents

History

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Precolonial

First settlements are dated around the late Pre-Classic period (B.C.200-A.D.250). This suggests that their culture was related to that of Cuicuilco, one of the first urban settlements in the southern Valley of Mexico.

However, just as with the rest of the valley, during the Classical period most of the population concentrated in the city of Teotihuacan, northeast of Texcoco Lake. Most of the Xochimilco territory was abandoned and subject to the city of the gods (Teotihuacan). After the falling of Teotihuacan, the Xochimilco area welcomed some of their inhabitants along with other Chichimec tribes from the north of Mesoamerica. Chichimecs abandoned their original places because of a severe drought at the end of the Classical period. Also, Chichimecs had recently received an increased number of immigrants from northern Mesoamerican tribes, whose culture was nomadic and bellicose.

One of the migrant tribes that arrived to Xochimilco was the Xochimilcas, who penetrated into the heart of Mesoamerica between the 10th and 14th centuries. They founded the ceremonial centre of Cuailama in the 10th century (today Santa Cruz Acalpixca). A number of prehispanic hieroglyphs in the nearby mountain range have been found which are believed to be related to ceremonial rituals. Xochimilcas extended along Xochimilco lakeshore and the isles of Tláhuac and Mixquic towards the mountain range of Ajusco-Chichinauhtzin.

It is believed that the Xochimilcas invented the chinampa and founded the city of Xochimilco. It has also been suggested that it was just an improvement to a technique previously introduced; the technological peak was achieved during the 11th and 14th centuries thanks to Nahuatlacas tribes. Chinampa is an agricultural practice originally from lake regions in the center of Mexico. They were built by staking large reed mats and fencing them with wattle, piling mud gathered from the bottom of the lake at low tide, and planting willow trees, which grew fast and put down deep roots, to anchor them.

Mexicas considered the Xochimilcas distant relatives like many of the neighbouring towns of the Valley of Mexico lakes, sharing the same mythic origin (Chicomoztoc). Legend has it that after leaving Aztlán, Mexicas were accompanied by a tribe whose glyph identifies Xochimilco. However, when Mexicas arrived to the Valley of Mexico, Xochimilcas were already established in the south. Mexicas declared war on the chinampa towns of Xochimilco and Tláhuac because they were mercenaries of Coxcox, Culhuacán's tlatoani (nowadays Iztapalapa). In 1323 Mexicas defeated Xochimilco’s tlatoani, Acatonalli, and joined Culhuacán politics; they were now free from Culhua control. Ilancueitl, Coxcox's daughter, was given as a bride to Mexicas ruler as an alliance symbol. However, Mexicas gave her in sacrifice to Xipe Totec, and this renewed hostilities with Culhuacán, which allied with Tecpanecas from Azcapotzalco and defeated Mexicas in 1367.

In 1376, Mexicas conquered Xochimilco again — once they were established in Tenochtitlan under Tecpanecas rule —, however this time Xochimilco was annexed to the Azcapotzalco territory. Despite their alliance with Tecpanecas, Mexicas allied with Texcoco in order to start a war with the usurper Maxtla from Azcapotzalco; they succeeded in 1428. Two years later, Xochimilco was under attack for the third time by Mexicas; this time was definitive and they were annexed to Tenochtitlan government. Consequently, Xochimilcas were forced to provide labour workers for the construction of Mexica's capital city and other urban projects, particularly Chapultepec’s aqueduct, Iztapalapa's avenue and the Nezahualcoyotl's albarradón (canal avenue).

Mexico Conquest and Colonial Period

According to legends, Cuauhtémoc travelled to Xochimilco requesting help for Tenochtitlan's defence. On his way, it is said that he planted an ahuehuete, which is now in the Barrio de San Juan. Hernán Cortés and allied armies conquered Xochimilco on April 16, 1521 and thereafter occupied Churubusco, Coyoacán, Oaxtepec and Cuernavaca.

Once the conquest of Tenochtitlan had finished, Apochquiyauhtzin tlatoani, the last Xochimilco ruler, became a Christian. It is not known if this was voluntary or forced. He was baptised as Luís Cortés Cerón de Alvarado on June 6, 1522; he took the surnames of conquerors Cortés and Alvarado. This tlatoani was allowed to govern Xochimilco as a conqueror's puppet. In fact, Hernán Cortés gave Xochimilco, lands and people, to Pedro de Alvarado immediately after the military conquest and remained in power until his death on 1541.

Evangelisation of Xochimilco inhabitants and neighbouring towns was supervised by Franciscan missionaries (among them, Martín de Valencia, Alfonso Paz, Juan de Nozarmendia and Bernardino de Sahagún). Between 1534 and 1579 a Franciscan convent was built, and it is currently associated to Xochimilco's cathedral.

Philip II of Spain increased Xochimilco status to city. Thereafter, Xochimilco was named the 'Noble City of Xochimilco'.

The lack of attention from colonial administration to engineering projects that allowed the flourishing of chinampa activity in Xochimilco Lake caused flooding of cement factories in 1609. In 1576 Xochimilco had a smallpox epidemic, known as hueycololiztli; this happened again in 1777 in the context of the demographic crisis of the 18th century in New Spain.

Xochimilco kept an intensive commercial relationship with Mexico City via the lake system. It was also the route for trajineras (boats) coming from towns on the east to the capital city. By the middle of the 16th century, lakes on the south were isolated, the only aquatic route between Xochimilco and the capital being the Viga canal.

19th and 20th centuries

ParqueEcologico.JPG
Two views of the Parque Ecológico de Xochimilco, a 215-hectare nature-reserve established in 1989 to preserve endemic plants and animals

After the Mexican independence, Xochimilco became part of Mexico State. Its main activity was still agriculture, whose production was transported by trajineras from the chinampas to the main markets in Mexico City, like La Merced and Jamaica. In 1850 the first steam railroad line between Mexico City and Xochimilco was inaugurated, increasing commerce between the cities. The main transport were trajineras until the first electric interurban tram was introduced in 1908; this tram service continues today as the Xochimilco Light Rail, with the popular name el tren ligero ("light train") and is one of Mexico City's electric surface transport system, financially supported by the government's Sistema de Transporte Eléctrico (STE).

During the Mexican revolution, all groups involved in the war settled in Xochimilco at some point. In 1911 Zapatists from Morelos broke into the Federal District (Mexico). Although they established their command post in Milpa Alta, soon they moved into Xochimilco delegación's towns, including Xochimilco city, which was set on fire. In 1913 some cadets from the H. Colegio Militar (Honorary Militar College) were assassinated by Victoriano Huerta's followers in the town of San Lucas Xochimanca. The next year, Emiliano Zapata and Francisco Villa signed the Plan de Xochimilco treaty, in a house in front of the main market (today a shoe store).

In 1938 fluvial communication with Mexico City was cut with the closing of the Viga canal.

In 1968 constructions were carried out in the area in preparation for the Olympic games. The Cuemanco canal was partially converted into the Olympic rowing and flatwater canoe venue Virgilio Uribe. On the outskirts of the delegation, the Anillo Periférico (city bypass) was built. Conurbation with Mexico City happened during the last three decades of the 20th century.

Climate

The borough of Xochimilco has 4 distinct microclimates. Three of them can be classified as temperate subhumid climates -characteristic of the Valley of Mexico-, eventough these can be differentiated according to their precipitation levels. Such microclimates cover around 98% of the Xochimilco area, from the north until 2800 masl, near San Francisco Tlalnepantla. From this point upwards the climate becomes cooler and wetter, even though it does not reach the category of true mountain climate. The table for Moyoguarda is representative for the lowest regions, whilst the above mentioned climate division at San Francisco Tlalnepantla is indicative of such transition to cooler and wetter conditions.

Moyoguarda
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
7
 
21
3
 
 
6
 
23
3
 
 
9
 
25
5
 
 
21
 
26
8
 
 
70
 
26
10
 
 
128
 
25
11
 
 
133
 
24
11
 
 
127
 
24
11
 
 
116
 
23
11
 
 
56
 
23
9
 
 
9
 
22
6
 
 
6
 
22
4
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: [1]
San Francisco Tlalnepantla
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
11
 
19
2
 
 
6
 
20
3
 
 
13
 
22
5
 
 
34
 
23
6
 
 
74
 
24
7
 
 
177
 
22
7
 
 
180
 
21
6
 
 
180
 
20
7
 
 
177
 
20
7
 
 
72
 
20
6
 
 
10
 
20
4
 
 
6
 
19
3
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: [2]

Wildlife

Lake Xochimilco is the only habitat for the critically endangered Axolotl salamander. The borough also has a number of nature reserves including the Xochimilco Ecological Reserve and Bosque de Nativitas Park.

Xochimilco canals

The Xochimilco canals, all that's left of the extensive chinampas, are now a popular tourist attraction whose shores are crowded with houses and docks. The canals are particularly popular on the weekends and during public holidays, when many Mexican families and tourists rent boats complete with musicians and food. These boats, or "Trajineras", are propelled with a long wooden pole that is thrust into the canal bed and pushed in the desired direction.

References

External links

Coordinates: 19°15′47″N 99°06′11″W / 19.263°N 99.103°W / 19.263; -99.103


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