Santa María Nonoalco is a neighborhood, and one of ten original settlements in Álvaro Obregón. That’s to say, it’s one of the towns and villages recognized by the City for having maintained its historical heritage. Today it’s a curious neighborhood, more harmoniously bisected by the Cuernavaca Bikeway than it had been in the past. Most of the 20th century saw residents dodging the trains on the old railway, or heavy traffic on the more recent highway.
The town was founded in ancient times. It appears as “Nunualco” in records from the 16th century. Like most of eastern Álvaro Obregón, it was earlier a dependency of the Coyoacán altepetl (or city-state).
The church dates from the 16th century. A single nave is capped by a barrel vault with lunettes. The transept is topped by a spectacular dome covered in tile. It was declared a historical monument in 1932, but even then it was noted that it was missing much of a considerable art collection mentioned in earlier texts.
The main entranceway is a semicircular arch of carved quarry stone. Relief carvings cover much of this. The church is perhaps most famous for the atrium entranceway, with three stone arches. This is directly in front, and just a few steps from the neighborhood market. Somewhat remarkably, the stone arches date from the 16th century as well. The atrium age deduces from the discovery of a small mausoleum that showed clear influence of Arabic architecture. That sort of architectural style simply wasn’t repeated much after the 16th century.
As a stop along the Cuernavaca Railroad Bikeway, they don’t come much more convenient than this one. The neighborhood is an excellent place to explore, and hopefully, to spend part of a curious afternoon.