Ayuntamiento (Spanish pronunciation: [aʝuntaˈmjento])[note 1] is the general term for the town council, or cabildo, of a municipality[1] or, sometimes, as is often the case in Spain and Latin America, for the municipality itself. Ayuntamiento is mainly used in Spain; in Latin America alcaldía is also for municipal governing bodies, especially the executive ones, where the legislative body and the executive body are two separate entities. In Catalan-speaking parts of Spain, municipalities generally use the Catalan cognate, ajuntament, while Galician ones use the word concello, Astur-Leonese conceyu and Basque udaletxea. Since ayuntamiento is a metonym for the building in which the council meets, it also translates to "city/town hall" in English.


With the eighteenth-century Bourbon Reforms in New Spain, which created intendancies and weakened the power of the viceroy, the ayuntamientos "became the institution representing the interests of the local and regional oligarchical groups then setting deep roots into their territories."[2] The Spanish Constitution of 1812 called for the transformation of the ayuntamiento, previously dominated by elites, into a representative institution with elections. Article 310 called for the establishment of an ayuntamiento for all settlements with 1,000 inhabitants.[3]

The term ayuntamiento was often preceded by the word excelentísimo ("most excellent"), when referring to the council. This phrase is often abbreviated "Exc.mo Ay.to ". Other names for ayuntamiento have been casa de cabildo, casa capitular, casa consistorial and casa del concejo.[4]

Local legislative bodyEdit

In Latin America several terms exist for the legislative bodies of municipalities. The term consejo is used in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Peru. In Mexico the term ayuntamiento is for the council (which refers to itself as the H. Ayuntamiento, or el Honorable Ayuntamiento[5]). Puerto Rican municipalities have a legislatura municipal. In Peru the term ayuntamiento is never used; instead, it is municipalidad, consejo provincial or consejo distrital (district council). Executive functions in most of these countries is handled by an executive alcalde, the mayor (not to be confused with the historic alcalde, who was a magistrate).

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Geoffrey Pivateau, "Ayuntamiento," Handbook of Texas Online [1], accessed July 18, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  2. ^ Guedea, Virginia. "The Old Colonialism Ends, the New Colonialism Begins" in The Oxford History of Mexico, Michael C. Meyer and William H. Beezley, eds. New York: Oxford University Press 2000, p. 282.
  3. ^ Hamnett, Brian R. The End of Iberian Rule on the American Continent, 1770-1830. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2017, p. 197.
  4. ^ Aida R. Caro de Delgado. El Cabildo o Régimen Municipal Puertorriqueño en el Siglo XVIII: Tomo I, Organización y Funcionamiento. p. 173.
  5. ^ Hoy, Bill (1993). Spanish Terms of the Sonoran Desert Borderlands. Inst. for Border Studies, San Diego State Univ. p. 22. The municipio government usually calls itself the Honorable Ayuntamiento, abbreviated as H. Ayuntamiento.


  1. ^ In other languages of Spain:

Further readingEdit

  • Camacho-Pichardo, Gloria. "La reorganización territorial de los ayuntamientos en México bajo la dictadura de Antonio López de Santa Anna, 1853-1855." La Colmena 98 (2018): 63-80.
  • De Gortari Rabiela, Hira. "Ayuntamientos y ciudadanos: la ciudad de México y los estados: 1812-1827." Tiempos de América: revista de historia, cultura y territorio 1 (1997): 113-130.
  • Moreno Plata, Miguel. La reorganización territorial del ayuntamiento rural: un enfoque alternativo para la modernización de los municipios rurales del país en los umbrales del siglo XXI. Plaza y Valdés, 2001.
  • Pazos, María Luisa Pazos. El ayuntamiento de la ciudad de México en el siglo XVII: continuidad institucional y cambio social. Diss. Universidad de Sevilla, 1997.