The San Miguel Arcángel Nonoalco-Tlatelolco church was founded in the 16th century. It was originally a visiting chapel for Franciscans from the Colegio de la Santa Cruz in Tlatelolco. The building we see today was completed, according to two plaques found on the façade, in 1707 and 1709. (That’s the Torre Insignia in the photo above, which will give Mexico City residents nearly the church’s exact location.)
The Church Building
The original nave was rectangular. A transept added later came to support the octagonal dome. The presbytery has a ribbed vault and a modern altarpiece. A pair of small colonial paintings here depict the Annunciation and a scene from the life of the Virgin.
The niche in the façade somehow still retains a 17th-century figure of Saint Michael the Archangel. Within the nave is a painting of Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos by Juan Rodríguez Juárez. This dates to 1694. A Virgin of Guadalupe and sculptures of the Holy Burial and Christ scourged, both from the 18th century, are in the choir loft.
- Nonoalco is generally thought to be the west-end of Tlatelolco. The Nonoalco-Tlatelolco housing complex came to dominate the entire neighborhood in the 1960s. In fact, Nonoalco was the most westerly neighborhood of the 18 named on the island-city of ancient Tlatelolco.
San Miguel Arcángel Nonoalco-Tlatelolco in the 20th Century
In 1923, a railroad intersection cost the parish most of the atrium. This is today the Insurgentes Norte corridor, still a complicated intersection. That said, the remaining atrium is a treat of trees and gardens.
In 1936, the church was designated a workers’ center. The façade was kept and a plaque recalled the historical events that had taken place here. Residents of the area soon asked to have the church back and they got it in 1938. After many years of neglect, the church was thoroughly restored in 1988.
The San Miguel Arcángel Nonoalco-Tlatelolco church is a brisk walk (roughly 20 minutes) from either the Tlatelolco or the Buenavista Metro stations. Just across that terribly complicated stretch of Insurgentes Norte, you’ll be in the very north of always chic Santa Maria La Ribera.