Located in the Sierra Sur region, south east of the City of Oaxaca, the Zapotec mountain community of San Bartolo Yautepec is noted for its mescal and skilled weavers. The church too is home to several colonial treasures—some unsuspected, which we will describe in three posts, starting with the church itself.
Established by the Dominicans as a missionary hub for the region, the colonial church of San Bartolo was built in classic Oaxacan style with a massive front and squat twin towers. However, following a devastating earthquake in 1801 it was much remodeled, notably with its present facade.
The Church Front
The imposing, whitewashed facade is fashioned in ornate neo-moorish style, with multilobed openings, decorative colonnettes, zig-zag moldings and a jagged, mixtilinear gable.
Large scale, carved stucco ornament covers the surfaces creating an tapestry of outsize stars and scrolls, barbed quatrefoils and twisting floral motifs.
Quatrefoil with star and heart; candlestick colonette
Serpentine parapets fringe the tower belfries and cap the outer nave walls.
Similar ornamentation continues inside the church, where a complex stucco grapevine relief spans the under choir, and painted floral friezes outline the pilasters and arches of the vaulted nave.
text © 2019 Richard D. Perry
color images by Niccolò Brooker and others. all rights reserved
please visit our other recent posts on Oaxacas colonial churches: