Coyoacán is a neighborhood — or to be more accurate, a villa — within Mexico City famous for its markets, laid-back atmosphere, food, and its residents.
As anyone who visits Coyoacán knows, the villa was home to two of Mexico’s most famous artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, as well as a host of other notable locals.
But the villa of Coyoacán has a fascinating history stretching back all the way to the 7th century by the Nahuatl.
When in Coyoacán, you will notice multiple monuments, fountains and artistic representations of coyotes. That’s because the name of the villa translates as “the place where the coyote is worshiped.”
In Nahuatl and Mexica myth, the coyote was not a figure to be feared, but rather in its divine form, Huehuecoyotl was the patron deity of the arts, which is perhaps why the area has historically attracted so many distinguished artists.
Indeed, Coyoacán feels extremely different from the rest of Mexico City. This is not to say that there is no hustle and bustle, but it is certainly toned down to a very noticeable degree.
But aside from everything else, for most Mexicans, and especially Chilangos (Mexico City folk), Coyoacán is synonymous with food.
All of Coyoacán is filled to the brim with restaurants, markets, and fondas (tiny hole-in-the-wall eateries). The prices vary wildly, and there is no shortage of tourist traps, but regardless of where you go, the food is seldom mediocre.
Fantastic little restaurants can be found serving up delicious fresh food just about everywhere. Common dishes include Coyoacán’s famous quesadillas made from Quesillo Oaxaca and Chicharron, or Huitlacoche — a Nahuatl delicacy made from a fungus that grows on maize.
Coyoacán is also very famous for its many markets, which sell everything from traditional toys, food, Japanese foodstuff (a true sign of the times), and local fruit.
Coyoacán’s markets were also once frequented by the famous Ukrainian-born Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky, who was controversially offered asylum in Mexico by then-president Lázaro Cárdenas and then became a house guest of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
Because Coyoacán also hosts the St. John the Baptist Church and Convent, religious life is particularly fervent in the villa.
All and all, Coyoacán is a must-visit for any traveler in Mexico City. Though the Frida Kahlo Museum is always full to the brim, the atmosphere just about everywhere else is a perfect opportunity to get away from the craziness of Mexico City, which lay just over the horizon.