San Bartolo Cahualtongo is a tiny old village in Azcapotzalco. One of the original 27 neighborhoods accounted for by the Dominicans, today it’s one of the 25 original settlements. Spared the heavy industrialization of towns to the immediate east, it retains a little more of the ancient character in its crooked streets and alleys.
The Nahuatl neighborhood name, Cahualtonco, could mean “abandoned place.” Acahualtonco, an alternate spelling, could translate as “place of the acahualli,” that is, of dry grass. Some very old records also list the full name as Atlicholohuyan or Atlicholohuacan, which means “Place of freshwater springs.”
The town is still centered around an old 17th-century chapel. This was rebuilt in 1957 and again in 1976. Thankfully, plans to build a bigger church in the atrium were never realized. Some services here will still be a little crowded because it is a very small chapel.
International visitors are most likely to encounter San Bartolo Cahualtongo while en route to the giant San Isidro cemetery. That’s just west of the town. But the tiny chapel is about a 20-minute walk from Metro Camarones. The cemetery is a bit further.
One of Azcapotzalco's ancient neighborhoods is remembered in a stone chapel.
The ancient neighborhood was sacred to the Tepanec people, the chief rivals to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan.