Exploring Tepito in Mexico City: Fierce and Vibrant Neighborhood

Talking about Tepito in Mexico City is to remember a little of the roots of the Mexicans, the growth of a country, and shows how some areas are still there despite historical changes.

Tepito in Mexico City is located in an area that has been in movement since pre-Hispanic times, that is, hundreds of years keep in this soil the history of Mexico City.

Currently, Tepito is the cradle of illegality, it is synonymous with piracy, but it is also the essence of the wild mixture of Mexican customs.

It is a great space for buying and selling, where the Mexican, in Mexico City, has the option of buying at low prices.

Mexico is a country with many wonders that reveal its idiosyncrasies, such as Mexican boxing.

Its demarcation is marked by Eje 1 to the south, Eje 2 to the north, Paseo de la Reforma to the west and Av. del Trabajo to the east.

Tepito is located within the Morelos neighborhood. However, its influence reaches areas such as Lagunilla, Garibaldi and Colonia Guerrero. The neighborhood’s name has Nahuatl origins.

But this area, Tepito in Mexico City, has been considered an area on the margins of the law, with autonomy, and even with the regularity of crimes considered serious violations of the law.

The merchants of Tepito in Mexico City, as the inhabitants of the area are known, have long celebrated their autonomy.

They have resisted by all means attempts to domesticate the neighborhood through policing or gentrification.

With the slogan “Tepito exists because it resists” is painted on the walls and repeated by residents.

However, Tepito has not survived because of its isolation and defensiveness, but because of its powerful connections.

Tepito in Mexico City, a particular stroll

Today, Tepito in Mexico City has become the reference neighborhood of the Mexican popular class, in its streets are synthesized centuries of tradition.

The history of Tepito in Mexico City can be traced back to pre-Hispanic times.

According to historians, the name is derived from teocal-tepiton, which means “small temple”. In this site during colonial times there was also a Catholic temple called San Francisco Teocaltepiton.

Thus, the name was cut until it reached the form of Tepito.

Tepito in Mexico City: Historical Context

During pre-Hispanic times, Tepito was a border town between the city of Mexico-Tenochtitlan and its twin sister, Mexico-Tlatelolco.

With the arrival of the Spanish invasion, it was a point of resistance.

During the Colonial period, San Francisco Teocaltepiton was a neighborhood controlled mostly by Tlatelolco Indians.

Together with its neighbors Tequipeuhcan and Santa Ana Atenantitech (Peralvillo) it became one of the most marginalized regions of Mexico City. Its legal status was that of a republic of Indians.

Due to unsuitable conditions, Tepito in Mexico City became an abandoned area by 1870, which attracted criminals and prostitutes.

In 1880 the informal market took over the vicinity of the San Francisco temple. Initially, the place served as a temporary relocation center for street vendors from the Historic Center, as well as merchants from the Lagunilla.

During the Cristero War, hundreds of shoemakers from the Bajío arrived to live in the neighborhood. From then on, Tepito in Mexico City was dedicated almost exclusively to the sale of shoes.

Due to the lack of control, in 1950 Tepito became a totally informal trade center.

Later, the people of Tepito stopped dedicating themselves exclusively to footwear and expanded their commercial offerings.

This led to the appearance of tianguis, places for the sale of fayuca (electrical appliances smuggled into Mexico and whose cost was notably lower).

It has been subjected to several eviction attempts.

And then it has been considered a “barrio bravo” in Mexico as Tepito became an epicenter for the sale and distribution of drugs, as well as the sale of pirated goods.

Nowadays, Tepiteños trade almost anything and it is a supply center for numerous locals from all parts of the megalopolis.

Culture in Tepito

Walking through Tepito in Mexico City is a walk full of adventure, fear and suspense; each corner generates certain sensations, but also some of the joy of the Mexican.

It is considered a barrio bravo of Tepito, but in an encounter with its colors, flavors and traditions, besides that walking its streets has become an experience in Mexico City (CDMX).

The barrio bravo of Tepito is located in the center of Mexico City and is considered one of the most dangerous places.

In addition, it concentrates diverse flavors, and even famous chefs, such is the case of ‘Migas de la Güera’.


This Mexico City neighborhood is a mixture of flavors and customs, art and folklore.

On October 4, Tepito celebrates its patron saint’s day, dedicated to San Francisco de Asis.

Also in the barrio bravo coexist all kinds of religions, cults, temples and altars such as the one dedicated to the image known as ‘Angelito Negro’ and Santa Muerte.

Tepito is a reference of identity, however, there is the other side of the coin such as crime, insecurity, arms sales, drug dealing and the dispute between criminal groups.

Tepito in Mexico City

Everyday life in Tepito

And while it is true that there is a lot of joy, on the margins, there is a network of crime, with drug trafficking, prostitution, gang wars, and other crimes.

It has been considered a “barrio bravo” in Mexico as Tepito became an epicenter for the sale and distribution of drugs, as well as the sale of pirated goods.

Today, Tepiteños trade in almost anything and it is a supply center for numerous locals from all parts of the megalopolis.

Extortion, express kidnappings and protection rents are the order of the day.

And their main victims are the small merchants of Tepiteño, who raise their voices in the face of government and police inhibition.

Drug dealing abounds and shootings are commonplace, just as it is usual that no one guilty is ever arrested.

Tepito in Mexico City survives by obeying its own laws and dodging life as one dodges a bullet.

In Tepito there is commerce six days a week, except on Tuesdays, the only day the neighborhood rests and its own economy sleeps, a capitalism in the heat of the moment, made up of more than ten thousand stalls, those small stores where everything can be bought and sold.

Places in Tepito

The neighborhood has a lot of the feminine role because it is a matriarchal society “where women are more bitchy than pretty”.

Proof of this is the Mural of Las Siete Cabronas, where the most notable women of Tepito are represented, admired and respected.

The men, of course, still wear their pants, “but to the dry cleaners,” says Alfonso.

Sexual liberation also arrived much earlier in Tepito than in the rest of Mexico.

In the Callejón de las Ganas, a multitude of stalls, ointments, creams and elixirs spill out and Tepiteños who could pass for loving abuelitos and abuelitas.

Respect for sexual diversity also amazes in Tepito. There is the Las Gardenias soccer team, made up of transsexuals and transvestites, a tradition of more than 50 years and whose annual game is played in the neighborhood’s Maracaná stadium on October 4 to celebrate St. Francis of Assisi.

Tips when visiting Tepito

Don’t go as if you were going to a party, with expensive clothes or accessories. Go normal, your attitude should also be simple, and be friendly with people.

Don’t go into streets or places you don’t know, try to go accompanied, and better if you are from the city.

Keep your money and belongings safe

Above all, be cautious, but enjoy the tour, it is a small city within the city.

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