A tribute to revolutionary hero’s Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata
The day of the dead is a long standing tradition in Mexico similar to Halloween or all saints day in other parts of the world and was inscribed into the intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 2008. In Mexico, it is also a national holiday celebrated on November 2nd. On this day Mexicans pay homage to deceased family members, friends, national hero’s, luminaries and even world leaders with personalized altars that offer gifts to the departed. These offerings usually include flowers, favorite foods, beverages and possessions of the dead. Alternately, family members will visit the grave site of departed souls and leave similar offerings.
Today , Katrina’s are the most highly recognized symbol associated with the Day of the Dead. Years ago, however, a Katrina referred to an elegant and well dressed woman of class and privilege until a mexican artist created an illustration of a well dressed skeleton during revolutionary times that was supposed to symbolized the death of mexico’s ruling class of privileged aristocrats. Eventually, the Katrina figure came to represent the joy of life in the face of its end.
The entrance to the street of altars
A tribute to Nelson Mandela
Tribute to Frida Kahlo, one of mexico’s most famous artist
a smiling katrina looking to the heavens
a grinning katrina on the malecon
an elegant looking katrina
a well dressed katrina in front of lake chapala
a katrina in front of city hall
city hall decorations
this altar offers insight into the departed persons favorite foods, beverages and possessions
The Santa Prisca Cathedral was built in the 18th century with funds provided by the silver tycoon J0se de la Borda
Founded in 1529 by one of Hernan Cortes captains, Taxco remained an unkown village outside of Mexico until the discovery of a silver mother lode in the 18th century fueled the cities development. Sometime in the 1920’s as the silver mines were being played out, an American silversmith by the name of William Spratling came along and began teaching local people the art and science of silversmithing in his own workshop. The result was that the crafting of silver started a creative and economic boom that still exists today. Taxco now has over 300 silver shops including open air markets, metal workshops, and high end boutiques where buyers from around the world come to stock their retail stores with a variety of earrings, necklaces, rings and other creations .of silver finery. Besides the silver shops Taxco has other tourist attractions such as that old world ambiance of Spain with its winding cobblestone streets and small plazas, an aerial tram, good restaurants, some impressive architecture, Los Pozas Azules and several silver museums including the William Spratling museum dedicated to his contributions. For additional details, see the photo gallery below.
The village of Taxco was built on a hillside and is also one of Mexico’s pueblo magico’s
The main plaza is in front ot the Santa Prisca Cathedral. There is outdorr entertainment here most every night
The Santa Prisca Hotel is conviently located only a block away from the main plaza. It is also a clean, quiet and economical place to stay in the centro area where most room rates are very pricey.
There are a many street vendors in town that sell a variety of merchandise besides silver jewlery
Los Pozas Azules is a natural spa on the outskirts of town. Several pools such as this are created by a cascading stream of water which is a crystalline blue color during the dry season but becomes muddy during the rainy season.
A side view of the Santa Prisca cathedral and surrounding buildings
Located in the heart of Ajijic, the Lake Chapala Society was founded in 1955 by a group of 21 expatriates and today has over 3,000 members.The mission of LCS is to contribute to the social enrichment of its members and the Lakeside community through a variety of services and programs designed to facilitate the integration of expatriates into the Lakeside community and foster interchange between ex pats and mexicans to name a few. More details about LCS are available at http://www.lakechapalasociety.org and in the photo gallery there are images of the LCS facilities, garden and the recent Woodstock 45th anniversary party.
LCS Garden pond has a variety of Lily pad flowers
A Garden Pathway
Another part of the Garden Pathways
The entrance to the Lake Chapala Society facilities
The LCS cafe
Another type of lily pad in the LCS garden pond
a bird of paradise in the LCS gardens
The LCS Woodstock 45th anniversary celebration on August 16th.
Contestants for the best hippie costumes at the Woodstock anniversary celebration featuring wavy gravy with the microphone
a ceramic frog placed along the LCS garden pathway
Ajijic is located on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, less than an hour’s drive away from Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. It’s a small village with a population of approximately 10,000 and over half of these people are either retired Americans or Canadians who relocate here for a variety of reasons including attractive scenery, tempered climate, lower cost of living, english is spoken, and a variety of recreational activities tailor made for the cultural background of North Americans to name a few. So relocating to this part of Mexico also means less cultural shock then would be experienced in many other parts of Mexico or Central America and this is why Ajijic and Lake Chapala has been the top choice for most expatriates seeking retirement outside of the states since the 1940’s. The photo gallery below focuses on the plaza in the heart of Ajijic.
there is a unique sculpture at each corner of the plaza and this is probably the most unusual of the four
an abstract sculpture at another one of the 4 corners in the plaza
a stone sculpture at another corner of the plaza
This sculpture is a wood carving at one of the 4 corners of the plaza
here’s the gazebo in the center of the plaza with a metal sculpture of a deer in the foreground
the cultural center of Ajijic and a good restaurant next door are also in the plaza
Black and Whites cafe in the plaza is a popular place to meet friends
a mural on the front wall of the city hall across from the plaza
Comitan’s main plaza is the heart of the city and is noted for these flat top trees.
A Pueblo Magico since 2012, this artsy colonial village is located about 60 miles southeast of San Cristobal de Las Casas and is close to the border of Guatemala. It has some good restaurants and hotels, a few interesting musuems and is less than an hours drive away from El Chiflon Waterfalls, the lakes of Montebello, and El Chintuchek archeological site. Comitan also has one of the most impressive zocola’s in Mexico. These town plaza’s are an important part of the Mexican culture and the heart of almost every city both large and small. They serve as a place for people to socialize, find taco stands or restaurants, see special events and hear Mariachi music. More often than not, most zocola’s are centrally located across from the cities main cathedral, they usually have a large gazebo where local musician’s perform, lots of park benches and beautiful landscaping. With it’s distinctive flat topped trees, fountain and unique metal scupltures, Comitan’s zocola is one of the most impressive in Mexico. There are a few photos with additional information in the gallery below.
One of several metal sculptures around the main plaza
The plaza’s gazebo
Most resort area’s in Mexico have tourist police who offer a variety of services to visitors . Here is one of Comitan’s finest, Senor Lopez, standing in front of a metal sculpture in the plaza.
There are several sidewalk cafe’s and restaurants surrounding the plaza.
Comitan was founded in 1556 by Domincan Friars and the cathedral Santo Domingo was built between the 16th and 17th centuries with a facade of neoclassical style.
This is the front entrance to the cultural center next door to the church. It is used for piano concerts, plays, and workshops such as textile designing.
Inside the cultural center, a women demonstrates how to use an antique spinning wheel. A foot powered loom is in the background.
This is Comitans city hall
The Comitan theater is also directly across from the plaza
One of the waterfalls at El Chiflon ecotourist center 45 kilometers from Comitan
Lake Tzisco is one of the 5 Montebello Lakes less than an hours drive from Comitan
Lake Pojoj is another one of the five Montebello Lakes. All of the Lakes are easily accessible from the same road.v
San Cristobal is at an altitude of 2300 meters and is surrounded by peaks, pines and oak trees
This annual week long celebration of spring involves quite a variety of events and runs concurrent with the Semana Santa holiday in Mexico. There seems to be something for everyone including art exhibits, sports, concerts, parades, cultural events, rodeo’s, bull fights, fireworks and more. Best of all, most events are free of charge and in San Cristobal de las Casas the weather is spring like almost year around. For more information and a few photos of event activities, see the gallery below.
local people who have no store of their own set up shop behind the main plaza to sell hand made textiles and crafts
past and present festival beauty queens at the El Gato blues concert
El Gato Blues Band rockin’ La Ensenanza Casa de la Cuidad, they were smokin’
A sidewalk art contest in the main plaza
Folk dancing on stage in the main plaza
Flora, a local artist from Korea sells her unique style of artwork on Calle Hildago, one of the pedestrian only streets in Centro during the festival
At the anniversary celebration of El Jardin de Epifitas, there was a plant contest.
Another exotic plant in the epifitas garden plant contest
a flower decorated frame was set up at all four corners around the main plaza
a marimba orchestra performing on one of two stages set up in the main plaza
a fashion show on the main stage in centro
another model wearing one of the latest spring fashion designs in Chiapas
One of the 2 day events was a National motocross competition
The winner flies over the checkered flag
Almost every event in Mexico will have a Mariachi Band as did the spring festival
There were state soccer tournaments at this field, as well as, basketball and baseball tournaments at other locations in the cities large sports park
Here is a handicapped musician who learned to master the marimba with his feet, performing on the main stage in centro
Here’s a 4 piece jazz band performing at the Casa de la Cuidad with a cover of Dave Brubecks “Take Five”
A trational orchestra on the main stage closing out the festival on the 27th of April
House of the Deer and one of 2 wet bars on the first floor of this house
Translated, the house of the deer is Casa de los Venados in Spanish. This is a privately owned collection of mexican folk and contemporary art in a home which is over 18,000 square feet and has more than 3000 pieces of museum quality art on display. Most of this art work has been acquired directly from the original artists over a 35 year period. The owners, John and Dorianne Venator, are originally from the United States where they have lived in both Chicago and Portland as well as their new museum/home in Valladolid.The Venators generously open their musuem/home to the public for tours at 10 a.m. everyday and it is free of charge. So, if you are ever visiting the maya riviera don’t miss the chance to tour this impressive, one of a kind display of art. The photo gallery below is just a small sample of the Venator’s art collection.
At the top of this photo is a small portrait of the Venators
Diego Riveria, Frida Kahlo and family Schnauzer that likes to sleep on this bench
In August of 2012, Valladolid became part of Mexico’s “Pueblo Magico” program which recognizes traditional villages that meet their specific requirements of natural beauty, cultural riches, or historic relevance to the country. It is a well preserved colonial city of Spanish arcades and 16th century spires located between the beaches of Tulum and the archeological site of Chichen Itza. A few of the main attractions include the cathedral of San Servacio, Rosado Park, Cenote Zaci, the colonial homes with great architecture on Calzdada de Los Frailes and the Siskal neighborhood temple and ex-convent of San Bernadino de Siena. Additional activities include a variety of tours such as the chocolate factory tour, the mexican folk art tour of Casa de Venado and the Tequila tours of local agave plantations and distilleries. Photos and additional information is included in the photo gallery.
Siskal neighborhood and ex-convent of San Bernadino de Siena
Interior architecture of the temple
Siskal Barrio and La Taberna Restaurant which serves contemporary cusine with maya herbs and spices
This Mayan Home was preserved and restored because it is representative of the maya culture and building materials used in this area.
The chocolate factory in Valladolid is the only one in the state of Yucatan that still makes 100 percent chocolate candy using traditional production techniques
Friendly Manager of the chocolate factory
Take a tour of the Mayapan Agave distillery and learn about the traditional techniques used to make tequila and then taste the difference.
This tequileria features tastings of high quality boutique made tequila along with detailed information about how the local tequila is made
Parque Rosado is the main park in central Valladolid directly across from the cathedral in the center of town
San Servacio Cathedral
A sidewalk cafe next to the cathedral
Horse with bonnet and buggy offering rides around centro
Located in Yucatan near Valledolid, Chichen Itza has been a world heritage site since 1988 and has also been voted one of the world’s new seven wonders. The most dominant edifice at this archeological site is the Temple of Kukulcan, which happens to be the name of a maya feathered serpent deity. One of the most interesting facts about this pyramid more commonly known as El Castillo is that it is a monument of cosmological symbolism existing during this era. There are four sides containing 365 steps depicting the solar year, 52 panels for each year in the Mayan century as well each week in the solar year and 18 terraces for 18 months in the Maya religious year. Additional information about this archeological site is included in the photo gallery below.
Platform of the Eagles and Jaguars. The balustrades of these steps represents ascending plumed serpents
This is a carving on the wall of the jaguars and serpents platform depicting both eagles and jaguars clutching a human heart indicating that human sacrifices may have been made here
Stone carvings of an eagle and jaguar clutching a human heart
The Temple de los Guerreros. This building owes its name to the rows of pillars displaying relief carvings of warriors
row of pillars surrounding the temple of Guerreros
The temple of skulls has walls with relief carvings of human skulls
Entrance to the juego de pelota which is an arena for sports
Inside the sports arena there was a playing field with hoops on each wall. Players had to throw or kick a ball through these hoops
The Platform of Venus with balustrades ending in serpents heads
In each corner of the venus platform there are glyphs associated with the planet venus
Vendors with souvenirs are conveniently located near all buildings.
The annual jazz festival in Playa del Carmen would have ended Saturday night with one of their greatest hit songs called “September” but the crowd kept chanting for an encore. This event takes place in the last week of November at Mamita’s Beach and this years concert dates were scheduled on the 28th, 29th, and 30th. All three days of music are free of charge and music fans can bring their own refreshments or buy them from vendor stands on site. Each night features 3 different musical groups that play from 7pm to 11pm depending on how many encores the fans request. The photo gallery below shows each of the different groups performing on stage along with a sample of the light shows that are also part of the entertainment.
In 2003 the Day of the Dead was declared a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage by U.N.E.S.C.O. and every year the Xcaret Park near Cancun, Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead with a 5 day event known as the ” Festival de Tradiciones de Vida y Muerta”. During this celebration visitors can enjoy traditional cuisine of the region, workshops, handcrafts, visual art exhibtions, music, dances, rituals, altars, and offerings. One of the highlights of this event is the tour of their cemetery which is both a tribute to the deeply rooted attitudes of mexicans towards death and a replica of cemeteries found throughout Mexico. This cemetery is located inside the maya village on a hill with winding spiral paths that lead to the top.The path is lined with unique and imaginative headstones, plaques and ornamental structures that display a variety of spiritually oriented designs and attitudes about the dead.The photo gallery below is a sample of what to expect in the cemetery and in other locations around the park during this event.
the festival logo and display near the entrance
traditional yucatan altar and offerings
traditional maya dress and mask
day of the dead altar and offerings
a stone carved headstone with religious oriented design elements
a surreal headstone with spiritual design elements
a tiled headstone with religious design elementstwin towers, bells and crosses
a stone carved headstone with cross and a sculted religious figureeligous scuplture
stone carved headstone designed like a temple to and decorated with flowers in the shape of a cross
tiled headstone with a spiriual motif
a tiled headstone with other religious design elements
headstone with a religious theme and statue of the virgin de guadalupe
a religious theme for a headstone made with beer bottle caps and quart of corona beer
Mexico loves it monuments and that’s why one of its most important cities, Oueretaro, was inscribed as a historic monument U.N.E.S.C.O. world heritage zone in 1996. A tourist in Mexico can learn much about the history of this country by simply visiting these monuments which can be found in most every large city and resort area. There are several kinds of monuments such as statutes built as a lasting tribute to a person, a group of people or an event. Other kinds of monuments that are most common can be either a place, building site or structure that is preserved because of its historic culture and/or aesthetic importance. In addition to Queretaro; most of the national monuments are found in Mexico city, Gaunajuato, and Guadalajara but there are many other significant monuments to be found in a variety of locations nationwide.The photo essay below shows a variety of these monuments including some of the most important and popular in Mexico.
A monument in Puerto Vallarta dedicated to mexican culture
El Caballito a monument in Puerto Vallarta dedicated to the sea
monument to Father Hildago, the spiritual leader of Mexico’s revolutionary war
the fishermans monument is dedicated to the importance of commercial and recreational fishing in Mazatlan
Monument to Mazatlan which translated means land of deer
a monument to Danzante and the Otomi indian culture in that existed in Queretaro before the Spanish conquest
Ruins of La Pintura building which housed works of art in the ancient city of Tulum
a monument about the Mayan people in playa del carmen on the caribbean sea
mermaid and dolphin monument in La Paz
The ninos hero’s monument dedicated to 6 cadets age 13 to 20 who lost their lives after they volunteered to defend a fortress against overwhelming odds.
a monument to the Pacifico brewery founded in Mazatland
a monument statute of aesthetic beauty in Puerto Vallarta
A chapel monument located on the hill in Queretaro where the Mexican army defeated Maximillian to win freedom from Austria.
The architecture of Mexico is known for its variety that developed in several phases from different cultures. During the pre-hispanic period from 300 A.D. through the year 1581 A.D. most architecture was the product of Maya and Aztec civilizations which can be seen today at such archeological sites as Palanque, Tulum, Coba, and Chichen Itza. After Cortez and the Spanish armies conquered mexico in the year 1581, European architecture replaced Maya and Aztec building techniques with baroque, renaissance, gothic, and neoclassical architectural styles during what is known as the colonial period of Mexican history. Existing examples of this transition can be seen in several Mexican cities like Guanajuato, Morelia and San Miguel de Allende that have all been declared UNESCO world heritage sites due to the well-preserved colonial buildings in these area’s. In the year 1821, Mexico finally gained it’s independence but there where very few new developments in the field of architecture for several decades until the emperor Maximilian and the dictator Porfirio Diaz started to import French architectural designs around 1860. Perhaps, the most famous example of French influenced architecture of the day is the Palacio de Belles Artes in Mexico City commissioned by Diaz.. The next and most recent evolution in Mexican architecture came along just after the Mexican civil war ended in 1910 when modern and contemporary architecture started to replace obsolete building techniques. During this time frame architects started blending Mexican stylistic elements with expressionist and functionalist design concepts to create innovative works of modern architecture that continues to this day. A few representative examples of Mexican architecture from past to present are included in the photo essay below.
Tulum ruins, maya architecture, circa 800-1000 A.D.
Tulum Ruins, maya architecture, the castle, circa 800-1000 A.D.
Franciscan Mission, mestizo baroque architecture, circa 1750’s, jalpa, mx
La Parroquia, renovated with Gothic Facade architecture in 1880.
Former Monastery Morelia, Circa 1619, restored 1977
Canada de la Virgin, archeological site, circa 600-900 A.D. Guanajuato
Coba archeological site, Nohoch Mul Pyramid, Circa 300-900 A.D.
Main Cathdral of Guanauato, combination of Baroque and Churrigueresque Architecture, circa 1671-1695
University of Guanajuato, established 1732, this addition completed in 1940 in neo-classical style
Moorish influenced architecture, Guanajuato, now a restaurant, tavern and inn
Baroque interior architecture, Mazatland main catherdral, circa 1899
Teatro Juarez, neo-classical architecture, circa 1870- 1903, guanajuato
French Quarter Style of architecture , circa 1870’s, restored, centro historic district of mazatland
surreal architecture, edward james,garden, Sierra Gordo, Circa 1950’s
Live Agua Hotel, Cancun, modern, contemporary architecture
modern architecture, valentino’s entertainment center, mazatland
modern expressionist architecture, museum, puerto morales
Hildago is located in the state of Guanajuato near San Miguel de Allende and has a population of about 55,000 people. The main economic activities of Hildago are tourism, crafts, grape growing, sheep farming and ceramic factories. It is also one of 36 villages in Mexico that has earned the right to be a Pueblo Magico. Some of the criteria for this designation consist of the following;
1) a population of 20,000 or more and be within 2 hours drive of a major tourist destination
2) have ancient peoples, history and culture
3) they are protagonists of important events and legends
4) have perserved symbolic attributes along with beautiful architecture
5) its people maintain their customs and traditions
As seen in the photo gallery, Talavera is the main ceramic factory and retail outlet in the Hildago area. It is also the most outstanding brand of pottery made in Mexico because the design of pieces is highly regulated by tradition. Briefly, the pieces are all hand made with only natural clay´s as opposed to chemically treated and dried clay over a 3 to 4 month period. After the pieces have been created, they are also hand painted. In order to earn the brand name of Talavera, pieces must be made in specific locations and from workshops that have been certified by knowledgeable officials.
Guanajuato is the capital of the state that bears its name and is one of Mexico´s most well preserved colonial cities. Rich in both history and culture, Guanajuato became a Unesco World Heritage site in 1988 and is well known for its museums, university, colonial architecture and the hospitality of it´s people. The city also has a tradition of hosting musical, theatrical and dance events such as the Cerventino Festival. Since its inception in 1972, this festival has become the most important artistic and cultural event in both Mexico and Latin America, in addition to , one of four major events of its kind in the world.
One of the most important institutions of higher learning in Mexico is the University of Guanajuato in the city of Guanajuato. It was founded in 1792 by the society of Jesuits and authorized by King Felipe the 5th of Spain. After a series of transformations it eventually became a state university and was finally named the University of Guanajuato in 1945. Today the university has over 30,000 students and 153 academic programs; including 13 doctorates, 39 master´s programs as well as 65 Bachelor´s degrees and does more scientific research than any other institute of higher learning in the state.
Guanajuato is home to several unique museums a few of which are the former home of famous artist Diego Rivera which has been converted into a museum, a museum of mummies, the Cerventino museum and the Alhondiga Museum. During the Mexican war of Independance in 1810, the Alhondiga was converted to a fortress from what had been a warehouse for storing grain by Spanish loyalist who locked themselves inside to fight the Mexican rebels led by Father Hildago. The rebels won the battle when a miner known as El Pipilla crawled to the fortress with a large flat stone on his back for protection and burned down its wooden door. Before the war was over, however, the Spanish recaptured the Alhondiga along with 4 of its revolutionary heroes including Father Hildago, beheaded all four and mounted their heads on stakes at all four corners of the Alhondiga.
San Miguel de Allende may be a tourist town but what attracts visitors to this area is the atmosphere created by the art institute and all its related activities. Although the art institute was created around 1950 by Enrique Martinez, a former governor of Guanajuato, his wife Nell Harris, a retired Naval Officer named Sterling Dickinson and Peruvian artist and diplomat Cossio del Pomar, everyone seems to agree, that Sterling Dickinson is most responsible for San Miguel becoming an international art center.
Initially, the art institute offered a master´s in fine art accredited by the University of Guanajuato but over the years the institute has grown in size and scope and now offers BA and AA degrees in the visual arts along with workshops in painting, drawing, jewelry, weaving, photography and more. Additionally, there are many spanish language learning
A Canadian Olympic Bronze medalist in figure skating, Toller Cranston has also lived in Russia, Mongolia, and Paris but eventually settled in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where he has lived for the past 20 years. In addition to figure skating Cranston is a renowned artist who paints, designs tapestries, lamps, and carpets. He also owns several homes in San Miguel and personally designs each of the interiors in his own unique and eclectic style as seen in these photos.