Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Chapels of Metztitlan: Atzolcintla

We continue with our survey of the former visitas of Santos Reyes Metztitlan, the hub of Augustinian missionary work in the eastern part of what is now Hidalgo, in central Mexico.  
As previously noted, these were initially simple open chapels often later adapted into larger but still modest mission churches.  
San Juan Atzolcintla
Located less than ten kilometers west of Metztitlan, this imposing former open chapel, a tall, blocky building with its barrel vault girded by crenellated parapets on all sides, has retained its sculpted archway and lofty surmounting alfiz without later additions—all features characteristic of visita churches in the area.
   Pointed merlons also surmount the more modest annex, consisting of four inner rooms, likewise original and dating from the 16th century.  The adjacent belfry is more recent.
Although the grand original archway is now partially blocked, with a reduced entry, it retains its majestic sweep and intricate carving in the form of a vine sprouting leaves and fleurs-de-lis.
   Ornament around the square alfiz consists of complex, eight point rosettes reminiscent of the classic Aztec Fifth Sun motif.
Lusher vines complete with leaves, tendrils and ripe bunches of grapes, adorn the doorjambs in beautifully rendered relief. Stone holy water basins remain embedded in the wall on either side.

photographs © Juan B. Artigas

text © 2013 Richard D. Perry, with acknowledgments to Juan B. Artigas
color images courtesy of Diana Roberts.

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