San Miguel Xicalco is a rugged Original Village (Pueblo Originario) far off the beaten path in Tlalpan. It’s most famous for the cold temperatures, practically year-round. As the altitude is quite high, (2400 to 2800 meters above sea level), it’s best to pack a sweater.
The town center, directly in front of the church, boasts a panaderia (pastry shop), and the café is not bad also. Enjoying it in a place like this, buffeted by the wind, and telling folks at home that you’re in Mexico City, is priceless.
The first families to settle here, long before the Spaniards, built homes of the reeds of the chichia plant which grows in and around the town’s volcanic soil. The name Xicalco can thus be translated as “place of chichia and stone houses.”
The town chapel, dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel, dates from the 17th century. It’s a single nave and presbytery. The center of the magnificent façade holds a niche with a stone sculpture of the Archangel bearing his sword and his scale. At his feet is a winged, yet defeated, demon.
Corn paste figures of Christ and the Archangel are especially prized by the chapel community (and the town). The town celebrates two feasts for the Archangel each year on May 8 and September 29.
International visitors arrive to San Miguel Xicalco, often on a side trip from the Cumbres del Ajusco National Park. It’s a wonderfully uneven town of small plains, terraces, and hills and small outcroppings.
Driving, it’s about 20 minutes from Santo Tomás Ajusco, passing almost entirely through the town of Magdalena Petlacalco. It’s magnificent volcano country that won’t be soon forgotten.