Pueblos Magicos: The historically magical city of Malinalco

The medieval convent has a shockingly beautiful interior decorated with murals

Pueblos Magicos: The historically magical city of Malinalco

Sat, 2012-09-01

For as long as the town and municipality has stood, Malinalco has been considered a magical place. Much of its association with sorcery stems from the legend that it was the home to the goddess Malinalxochitl. According to mythology, the god Huitzilopochtli left his sister Malinalxochitl sleeping in the middle of a forest after finding her practicing evil witchcraft. Upon awakening alone, a furious Malinalxochitl gathered those loyal to her and decided to establish a new city, which grew to be Malinalco.

The area has many influences, including from the Teotihuacan, Toltecs, Matlatzincas and Aztecs. One of the city’s major attractions is the Cuauhtinchan Archeological Zone, rising above the town, built from the mid-1400s to the beginning of the 1500s. An important Aztec site, the site was also used as a ceremonial center.

The former Divino Salvador Convent, which was built by the Augustinians in the mid-1500s, has a medieval exterior with a breathtaking interior. Painted murals dance across the walls, many by the indigenous Tiacuilos. While breathing in the paintings’ beauty, visitors can appreciate the depiction of paradise here. An exuberant garden grows around the tree of life, with delectable flora and curious fauna, and another painting tells the story of the Garden of Eden in an Aztec codex style. 

Each culture from Malinalco’s diverse past has melted together to create a vibrant city. Malinalco is alive with color. The adobe houses have red tile roofs, some painted a variety of bright colors, creating a rainbow-effect. Street markets provide local arts and crafts for purchase, as well as a wide variety of food. 

While Malinalco may not be filled with the sorcery legends describe, it certainly is sparkling with a certain magic. As you stroll down the cobbled streets and past the neighborhood chapels, the depth of the pre-Hispanic and colonial past becomes clear, and history truly comes to life. 

The Pueblos Magicos program identifies towns that reflect “the culture of Mexico” through attributes like architecture, traditions, customs, music, gastronomy, festivities and handcrafts. There are currently 52 destinations throughout Mexico that have earned the Pueblos Magicos classification.