Plaza Hidalgo & Jardín Centenario

sights / Squares & plazas

Plaza Hidalgo & Jardín Centenario information

Lonely Planet review

The focus of Coyoacán life, and the scene of most of the weekend fun, is its central plaza – actually two adjacent plazas: the Jardín Centenario , with the village’s iconic coyotes frolicking in its central fountain; and the larger, cobblestoned Plaza Hidalgo , with a statue of the eponymous independence hero.

The Casa de Cortés , on the north side of Plaza Hidalgo, is where conquistador Cortés established Mexico’s first municipal seat during the siege of Tenochtitlán, and later had the defeated emperor Cuauhtémoc tortured to make him divulge the location of Aztec treasure (the scene is depicted on a mural inside the chapel). Contrary to popular thought, Cortés never actually resided here. The building now houses Coyoacán’s delegation offices.

The Parroquia de San Juan Bautista and its adjacent ex-monastery dominate the south side of Plaza Hidalgo. First erected in 1592 by the Franciscans, the single-nave church has a lavishly ornamented interior, with painted scenes all over the vaulted ceiling. Be sure to inspect the cloister, featuring Tuscan columns and a checkerboard of carved relief panels in the corner of the ceilings.

Half a block east, the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares stages innovative exhibitions on folk traditions, indigenous crafts and celebrations in its various courtyards and galleries.