San Salvador Cuauhtenco is centered around the Church of the Divine Saviour, (Iglesia del Divino Salvador). Built in the 16th and 17th centuries, the building is a spectacular example of the Baroque style at it’s most simple and inviting. Pre-Hispanic decorative elements on the facade include eight cocolito figures and two cane frond bundles.
Cuauhtenco, which means “on the edge of the forest,” is one of Milpa Alta’s 12 original towns (Pueblos Originarios). Longtime residents will also recount that it’s famously a Xochimilca community while most of its neighbors were Chichimeca. That’s led to a historical sense of pride. San Salvador Cuauhtenco is in fact one of the most productive agricultural areas even despite historically contentious issues of land ownership.
Cuahtenco is something of a sister village to San Pablo Oztotepec where the church’s full name is “San Pablo Apóstol and San Salvador Cuauhtenco.” A drive between the two churches takes about six minutes.
With an atrium surrounded by inverted arches, the interior nave of the church is reflects the vaulted ceilings. The simple facade is offset by the bell tower and the atrium is today still very much the center of the town.
The public market, Mercado Publico No. 244, “12 de octubre” is practically right outside the church walls, on Avenida Morelos. It makes an excellent place for lunch.