Founded in 1535, it was supplanted by an ejido (communal land grant) after the Mexican Revolution in 1924. In 1938, the public land was extended by then President Lázaro Cárdenas. The name, Totolapan comes from the Náhuatl for “guajolote or turkey on water,” and the glyph depicting it can be found within the Mendocino Codex. It’s related to the municipality by the same name in the neighboring state of Morelos (to the south) and the Chichimeca peoples who settled there and many similarly named areas.
The Parish Church of San Nicolás Totolapan is still the center of the town. The building, dedicated to San Nicolás Tolentino, was rebuilt in 1924 in the original Baroque style and atop pre-Hispanic ruins. Within the church one can still find a stone bearing ancient inscriptions. Also inside is an image of the Christ of Mercy, an oil painting of the Patron Saint and an image of the Christ Child. The town celebrates its founding on July 14, and the feast of Saint Nicolas on September 10.
Once designated as one of the Barrios Mágicos, or Magical Neighborhoods Program of the Mexico City Government, San Nicolás Totolapan remains a fascinating place to visit. It’s worth an afternoon exploring the city center and side streets. Don’t miss the Ariosto Otero Reyes mural titled El campo no aguanta más, ¨The field can’t take it anymore” from 2003 on the Ejidal Building just off the town square.