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.
Interior architecture of the Templo Expiatorio
A Bronze sculpture of Guadalaja’s Coat of Arms which symbolizes a fighting spirit and perseverance.
The Sanctuario de Guadalajara was built in 1781. The exterior architecture is Churrigueresque while the interior is Neoclassical
This is the Teatro Dellgado named after the state’s govenor when construction of the neoclassical building was completed in 1866.
Fuente de la Inmolacion de Quetzalcoatl who was a diety in the Meso American culture. The name means feathered serpent or flying reptile.
This is the facade of the Catedral Metropolitana which is now a mixture of Gothic, Baroque, Moorish and Neoclaassical architectural styles. Construction of the original building started in 1558 but 2 earthquakes have since destroyed most of the original building. In the most recent past, new twin towers were built to replace the originals that were destroyed by one of the earthquakes in the 19th century.
Entrance to the Palacio de Gobierno (state government headquarters) is an example of the colonial style architecture which is most prevalent in the city. It was completed in 1774 and has many columns, arches and murals inside.
One of Jose Orozco’s mural’s painted on a dome ceiling inside of the state government builing which covers an area equal to 1,312 sq. ft
Rotunda de los Jaliscienses Ilusttres was designed in 1952 to honor the contributions of Jalisco’s most notable people represented by the statutes surrounding it.
Institute de Cultural Cabana built in the 19th century is a neoclassical designed building. Originally this building was a shelter for orphans and homeless people. It has 23 courtyards and 106 rooms. It has been a world heritage site since 1997 and is now a museum.
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.
Neoclassical architecture located in the main square of San Cristobal
One of several pedestrian only streets in the center of town lined with a variety of cafes, restaurants, bars and retail vendors
surrounded by the del Carmen Church and cultural center, the arch was built in 1677
At the center of the town square, this gazebo has a restaurant inside and almost always has a live band on top during the early evening hours
Another pedestrian only street with vendors peddling their wares at very reasonable prices
A theater in the centro area with maya warrior guarding the entrance
Another pedestrian only street with a burger king on the corner. It is one of two fast food restaurants in town. Subway is the other.
An ecological reserve in San Cristobal with a hiking path, orchid greenhouse, and variety of flora such as cactus, bromeliads and ferns.
a cultural center for the arts
These pedestrian streets have lots of sidewalk cafes
playing music during a recent local festival
One of 16 temples in San Cristobal next to the ambar museum
Amber is mined in this area and the museum has video’s and exhibits about the origins, mining, and processing of amber
Sits high on top of a mountain overlooking the city.
nineteenth century neoclassical building gothic and baroque features
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
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
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.
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.
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 acceptance 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 heritage”. 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 studios, 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.