San Bartolomé Xicomulco is one of the 12 original towns of Milpa Alta. It borders communities in Xochimilco, and like many places in Milpa Alta, it shares common history with much of Xochimilco.
- Like all of the place names ending with “co,” Xicomulco means “place of.” But in this case, the etymology is not terribly easy. It begins with either Xictli, meaning “navel,” or Xicohtli, meaning “bumblebee.” The most widely accepted translation is “Place of the navel of the slope,” referring to the slopes of the Teuhtli Volcano. It’s visible from most of the town.
The small church at the center of the town is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew the Apostle. It was built in the 17th century and extensively remodeled and expanded in the 19th. In the Baroque style, the elegant façade consists of a single body. But with the choir window and bell tower, it can easily be said to reach a sublime perfection. The dramatic altarpiece is dedicated to the Black Christ.
The right side of the façade bears traces of an older semicircular arcade. This served as an outdoor chapel for many years. The giant atrium at the front of the church is generally used for religious and community affairs. To the rear of the church are a number of government installations and a square that bears a more civic countenance.
San Bartolomé Xicomulco is often a first-stop for visitors coming into Milpa Alta from Xochimilco. An enchanted place, it’s lit up like much of the area with festival and celebrations throughout the year. The Xicomulco Market is a quick walk from the center. It’s just south of the Casa de Cultura Tepecuitlapa, which is one of the town’s most important cultural meeting points.