Xanenetla – Off The ‘Spanish Draft’

In 1531, the invading Spanish authorities began a ‘trial Republic of Spaniards for Spaniards’ in the valley of Cuetlaxcoapan, naming it ‘City of the Angels’. The new city was supposed to show that a recently arrived Spaniard in these new lands of promise was capable of “self-sustainment without having to depend on the taxes of the ‘entrusted’ indigenous people”. Its purpose was to safeguard the Mexican metropolis from external indigenous rebellion and ensure at the same time a clearly-marked, secure commercial route between Mexico City and the port of Veracruz. 

So successful was this ‘trial Republic’ that a few years after its foundation, Puebla of the Angels became one of the richest cities of New Spain and of most importance to the Viceroy. 

However, inevitably, the Spanish not being fully capable of self-sustainment, indigenous settlements did spring up around the fledgling city. The renaissance checkerboard layout marked precisely the ‘Spanish Draft’ of the city but this became surrounded by the indigenous neighbourhoods of Analco, San Pablo, San Francisco, Santiago, San Sebastian, Santa Ana, San Miguel and Xanenetla. 

Xanenetla, like many of these indigenous settlements, was populated with natives brought from the Valley of Mexico to ‘collaborate’ in the construction of the city – in many cases, using the very stones and building blocks from surrounding native temples and pyramids. 

These days, to project their dreams and identity, the residents of Xanenetla have worked alongside City Government and ‘Colectivo Tomate’ to develop a ‘Ciudad Mural’, by painting more than 55 murals to decorate their houses and laneways. It’s a residential area that’s very much off the so called ‘Spanish Draft’ and is a warren of narrow laneways and alleys, all covered in bright colours and motifs. The effect is quite stunning, particularly on this blazing sunny day, and a world away from the Baroque ‘splendour’ of downtown Puebla. 

There’s a plaque on a wall in Xanenetla that, in Spanish then English, succinctly outlines the neighbourhood mission:   

“Our dreams are the hope we put in the young people and the kids of the neighbourhood, we work for them, we educate them, we want to see them grow and we want to show them that we can help while having fun. It may seem the streets and alleys fragment us, but the Xanenetla Square joins us together. We celebrate in community and we support each other to become a stronger neighbourhood. We are a family, a large one, open to show us who we want to be.” 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Bevanlee says:

    Mexicans have cornered the market on eye popping colour combinations. I’m loving the pink skull. It’s like a queen who’s overdone her diet😜 what a treat it is to share the visual and informational delights of your perigrinations 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael Skinner says:

    But why the tibetan prayer flags?


    1. Mexican fiesta bunting 🙂


      1. Michael Skinner says:

        of course ! the old MFB . very colourful . M x


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