A brief history of Xochimilco
Xochimilco in Nahuatl means "field of flowers." Its founders were the Xochimilcas, who arrived in Mesoamerica in the tenth century. This group is credited with the invention of the floating gardens, a culture technique that allowed the lake to take the field for planting flowers and cornfields that later serve as food for the population as well as for trade with other nearby towns.
Xochimilco had an extensive trade with Mexico City. Also, it was the passage of trajineras who came from villages located further east and heading towards New Spain. By the mid-sixteenth century, due to changes made by the Spanish governors in the southern lakes were cut, leaving the beam channel as the only waterway between Xochimilco and the capital.
In 1968, during the celebration of the Olympic Games in Mexico, built some street works and the Olympic Canoeing in Cuemanco channel. Also during this period were built important roads to reconnect with Mexico City and Xochimilco, including the Light Rail.
Xochimilco is characterized by the existence of a system of canals, which measure about a total of 170km2.These canals, and the small colorful boats that float on them among artificially created land called chinampas are internationally famous. These canals are popular with Mexico City residents as well, especially on Sundays.These canals are all of what is left of what used to be a vast lake and canal system that extended over most parts of the Valley of Mexico, restricting cities such as Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) and Xochimilco to small islands.
Today, as in the past, a large number of small, non-motorized boats and barges float on the waters of the canals. Before, these boats were mostly used for the transport of goods, but today, they are almost exclusively used for tourism. These are popular not only with tourists coming into Mexico City, but also with locals, especially on Sundays. There are various types and sizes of boats that can be found on the waters, but the most common is called “trajineras,” which look similar to gondolas, but are modeled after pre-Hispanic vessels called acallis. The current name is an old Spanish word for “canoe.” Originally, trajineras were decorated with floral arches and branches ahuejote juniper trees. This was eventually changed to an arch affixed to a roof, added on for protection from the sun. The arches often have female names on them such s “María” or “Juanita,” which may refer to someone special or is simply the name of the boat. They can be still decorated with flowers but more often they are painted with floral and other designs. Under the trajineras used for tourists, there is a long table with chairs to allow for eating and drinking.
• Xochimilco is the third largest delegation in Mexico City
• It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987
• During the forties, Xochimilco was the scene of the movie Maria Candelaria, in which she stars Dolores del Rio.
• In Xochimilco is spoken, in addition to Spanish, Nahuatl, Otomi, and Mixtec