Photo Essay: Scenes from Mexico City’s “Barrios Mágicos” and Beyond

by Ekua on January 22, 2012 in captured on memory card,Mexico,street art

On paper, the size and population of Mexico City can seem overwhelming. But aside from when I’m downtown or using the busy metro system, it often surprises me how the city doesn’t feel as populated or massive as it really is.

There are 16 boroughs in Mexico City, and within each borough are several neighborhoods. Some of the boroughs like Coyoacán and Xochimilco used to be separate towns that were swallowed up by the city over time.

While Mexico City as a whole seems to revolve around the historical center, more than other cities I’ve visited, the individual neighborhoods tend to have their own distinct character and vivacious centers. To me, this makes Mexico City feel more like a unified collection of towns rather than the big sprawling mass that it is.

In 2011, Mexico City decided to designate 21 of the most charming and historical neighborhoods as  “Barrios Magicos” (Magical Neighborhoods). Unsurprisingly, as a visitor to Mexico City, I’ve spent the bulk of my time in places that are on that list. Here are some everyday images from two of them, Roma and Coyoacán (and a few more from just outside):


An old bus turned in to public art parked outside a square in Roma.

Beautiful architecture in Roma.

A street in Coyoacán, not far from Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul.

The area around the central plazas of Coyoacán can be lively at night. It was a rainy night, but there were several vendors, plenty of people out, and live music under a tent in one of the plazas.

I love the joy in this photo. And the churros were delicious.

During the day I spent at CenArt, we picked up tortas for lunch in a charming neighborhood just outside Coyoacán. The flowers above and the following pictures were taken there.

Etched into a sidewalk. It made me a little wistful about my time in Cuba when I saw it.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Naomi January 23, 2012 at 12:45 am

Hahah, ‘magical neighborhoods’ – how cute!! These neighborhoods look so interesting!!


Ekua January 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm

It’s modeled after a program called Pueblos Magicos – magical towns! I think it’s cool idea because it highlights some of the main places you probably want to check out as a visitor and breaks the massive city down into manageable sections to explore.


Jessica January 23, 2012 at 8:49 am

LOVE the Barrios Magicos program.. I’ve been to more than half now… My favorites are Cuajimapla and Garibaldi. Great pics.


Ekua January 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm

I have yet to have the Garibaldi experience. So much Mexico City, so little time 😉 What is in Cuajimapla?


Ana O'Reilly January 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I love the houses and the flowers 🙂


Ekua January 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I have even more pictures of houses and potted flowers, but these were my favorites. I always appreciate it when people put that small bit of effort in to beautify the street and you definitely find that as you’re walking around some of these neighborhoods.


Dani | Globetrottergirls January 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Lovely photos – makes me want to go back to Mexico so bad!! 🙂 Maybe it’ll happen this summer…


Ekua January 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Thanks! I actually wouldn’t mind going back to Mexico for a third summer in a row 😉


Gone Traveling. January 26, 2012 at 7:45 am

I’d never have thought that these photos would be from Mexico. I’ve never been to Mexico but I sure love my tequila!


Ekua January 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm

This is why I like to compile pictures in this way… so much of what I’ve seen in Mexico is so different from the way people imagine it to be! I remember how surprised I was when I visited Mexico City for the first time because it looked and felt nothing like the way I thought it would. And there’s a lot going on besides tequila in Mexico, there’s a thriving mezcal scene as well!


Mexico City Metro January 28, 2012 at 10:50 pm


Nice blog, great photos and descriptions.

Mexico City is great for capturing great images.

You might be interested in my new blog project covering the neighborhoods around every metro station in the city.



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