Guadalajara’s Historic Landmarks, Mexico

Templo Expiatorio

The Templo Expiatorio

 

 

Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city and the cultural center of Western Mexico. Its status as a city was granted by the Spanish King Charles the sixth in 1550 along with a coat of arms that the city has today. The Central Historic district is the oldest section of the city where it was founded and where the oldest buildings are located. They include a combination of religious and civil colonial buildings which are noted for their architectural and historic significance. While the colonial buildings are the most common style of architecture found in the historic district, one can also find examples of Gothic, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Viceregal and Art Deco designs. One of the buildings,  the Instituto de  Cultural Cabana, is a world  heritage site.

From an architectural standpoint, the Templo Expiatory is perhaps the most interesting building in the  historic district and its neoclassical style was designed by Manuel Tolsa. Although the cornerstone was laid in 1897, the church is made of stone, carved as it was done in the middle ages.The three tympana on the church’s facade are accented with Italian mosaic’s created in the Vaticans mosaic factory. Also seen on the facade is a church clock imported from Germany and installed by German technicians along with a carillon of 25 bells which play 25 religious pieces such as Ave Maria. Whenever a musical piece is played, minature statutes of the 12 apostle’s rotate in and out of the campanile.  Of course a church would not be the same without stained glass and this one has huge stained glass windows created by Jacques and Gerard Degussecau of France. In addition to  the musuems and galleries in the historic area, the sites shown in this gallery are the most popular attractions for cultural tourism in Guadalajara.

San Cristobal de Las Casas, A Mexican Magic Town

IMG_0801

This 16th century building with solid adobe walls is located in the center of town and is an important symbol of San Cristobal

The department of tourism in Mexico defines a Pueblo Magico as a place of natural beauty, cultural riches or historical revelance. In 1987 San Cristobal de las Casas was selected as a magic town and is considered to be the Pueblo Magico of Pueblo Magico’s. It is centrally located in the state of Chiapas at 2300 meters above sea level and lies in fertile valley surrounded by mountains and pine forest.. It is also a place where old traditions and customs coexist with modern luxuries. A few of the cities highlights include 12 musuems, 2 theaters, 15 temples, 4 cultural centers, 6 ecological sites and 3 pedestrian only streets lined with a variety of cafes, restaurants, bars and retail stores.  San Cristobal is also an ideal location to start exploring the natural wonders in the state of Chiapas such as Montebello Lakes, Agua Azul waterfalls, Rancho Nuevo Caves, Sumidero Canyon, Palenque National Park and many other ecological attractions not far away. The photo gallery below shows a few of the cities many highlights.

Valladolid, A Mexican Magic Town

IMG_0395

The Cathedral of San Servacio

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.

Architecture of Mexico

Office  building in  Cancun, Mx

Modern  Office building in Cancun, Mexico 

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.

The Edward James Surreal Garden

fluer de lys, Edward James Garden

The Surrealistic Architectural Gardens created by Sir Edward James are also known as Los Pozas ( the pools). It is located in the village of Xilitla,  Mexico, a pueblo magico since December of 2011. The gardens consist of 80 acres with natural waterfalls and cascading pools of water, as well as  thirty six surreal sculptures in what is a sub-tropical rainforest environment about 2,000 feet above sea level. Its origins date back to 1947 when James bought the land which was then used as a coffee plantation. A few years later, however, most of the plants James had started cultivating were destroyed by an unprecedented frost and as a patron of the surrealistic art movement he decided to convert the coffee plantation into gardens with  surreal architectural sculptures that are completely  integrated into the surrounding natural environment.the gates to St. Peter and St. Paul

Born to immense wealth and privilege,  James was raised in England where his family owned a 300 room mansion on a 6,000 acre estate. Needless to say, he attended some of the most élite schools in the country and  became a poet/artist who  passionately  supported the surrealists art movement before it became fashionable. In addition, he sponsored the work of several budding surreal artist such as Salvador Dali as well as the Montaure, a lavish surrealistic magazine published in Paris. Eventually, he abandoned the intellectual, social and artistic circles of London for  the jungles of  Xilitla, Mexico where he  died in 1984. Sometime before his death, however,  he had donated the family estate in England to a charitable trust and set up the West Dean college for the preservation of traditional arts and crafts.

San Miguel, A Unesco World Heritage Site

la parroquia sma

A 500 year old cosmopolitan city, San Miguel de Allende became a Unesco World Heritage site in 2008.  In summary, Unesco is an agency of the United Nations and its purpose is to promote world peace and international cooperation through education, science and cultural exchanges. To be included in the world heritage list, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of ten cultural or natural criteria.

In addition to having outstanding universal value, San Miguel de Allende qualified for San Miguel Historic Siteacceptance on 2 of the other criteria. According to Unesco, “San Miguel is an exceptional example of the integration of different architectural trends and styles on the basis of  16th century urban layout.  Both religious and civil architecture  exhibit the evolution of different styles well integrated into a homogenous urban landscape”.

Unesco also considered San Miguel to be  qualified as an exceptional example of the interchange of human values.  “Due  to its location and function, the town acted as melting pot where Spaniards, Creoles, and Amerindians exchanged cultural influences; something reflected  in its tangible and intangible cobblestone streets of smaheritage”.  Additionally,  the town exhibits an acceptable state of  conservation while the legal system in place ensures protection of property and continuity.

Thanks to this heritage and a thriving community of  international artist, San Miguel has  become  one of the worlds most popular tourist destinations.  Visitor’s  will find  that cultural center cafe, San Miguel de Allende, MXstudios, galleries and craft shops are ubiquitous in the central historical area.  In addition, the art institute of San Miguel attracts many students with a variety of  degree programs  and workshops in the fine arts.  However, San Miguel is not just for art lovers, there are many other diversions here as well; such as  music festivals, concerts, plays, film festivals, and other special events throughout the year that  appeal to a wide variety of interest.