The upmarket colonial suburb of San Ángel lies 12km southwest of central Mexico City, clustered around the point where Insurgentes Sur and Revolución almost meet, linked by the 200-metre-long Avenida La Paz. With its markets, ancient mansions and high-priced shops – Cartier, Italian designer furniture and the like – around flower-draped patios, San Ángel is a very exclusive place to live. It also makes an inviting place to visit, packed with little restaurants and cafés where you can sit outside and watch the crowds go by; it is especially appealing on Saturdays when the delightful Plaza San Jacinto is taken over by Bazar Sábado, a lively outdoor art market. Initially, the Saturday market was based in one of the mansions on the square, which still opens every weekend selling upmarket crafts and artworks, but nowadays there are stalls in all the surrounding streets, with fairground rides and freak shows. The plaza is surrounded by San Ángel’s oldest mansions, notably the eighteenth-century Casa del Risco, at no. 15, housing a collection of antique furniture and paintings, with an extraordinary fountain in the patio made from old porcelain plates and cups, broken and unbroken.
Whether you choose to visit on Saturday or one of the quieter days of the week, consider sticking around until evening to blow an appreciable wad of cash on some of the finest dining in the city (see Polanco).
Museo del Carmen
Museo del Carmen
San Ángel takes its name from the former Carmelite Convent of San Angelo Mártir, on Revolución just south of its junction with La Paz, which is now run as the Museo del Carmen. Its three brightly coloured, tiled domes preside over this part of town and add the final touch of grace to what is a lovely example of early seventeenth-century architecture. The church is still used but the rest of the convent has become a museum where just walking through the maze of monks’ cells, rooms and courtyards is pleasurable enough, though there’s also an extensive collection of colonial religious paintings and furniture. Just about everyone wants to make their way to the crypt to see the dozen mummies, found here by troops during the Revolution and thought to be eighteenth-century nuns and monks, now displayed behind glass. Elsewhere, check out the extensive displays on daily life in New Spain and a collection of eighteenth-century oils by Cristóbal de Vallalpando.