Monday, November 4, 2013

The Chapels of Metztitlan: Itztacoyotla

San Lorenzo Itztacoyotla
Set on an elevated site within its walled atrium, San Lorenzo Itztacoyotla lies in the foggy heights beyond the lake some 30 kms north of Metztitlan.
As with other area churches, San Lorenzo started life as a 16th century capilla abierta, or isolated open chapel, but was later elevated from a visita to a residential mission, or vicaria, although still under the control of Metztitlan.
The raised atrium with its centrally placed cross and corner posas of uncertain date, is accessed by a broad flight of stone steps.
The imposing square front is very much in the regional style, now surmounted by a triple belfry flanked by towers of varying sizes—later additions. Recently cleaned and restored, it creates a distinctive outline that recalls its similarly sized neighbors at Zacualtipan and Zoquizoquipan.

As with other area chapels, the grand original archway of the facade is framed by a large, rectangular alfiz with plain, fluted moldings. The arch encloses a smaller doorway—another later addition.
Like other regional churches too, these framing devices are carved with a variety of motifs. The reliefs on the older arch are thought to represent corn or possibly a native reed (Acatl = Aztec day sign) while roundels with religious monograms alternate with fleurs-de-lis around the archway.

A calvary cross relief with skull, scourge and ladder surmounts the archway

text © 2013 Richard D. Perry.  color images © Niccolo Brooker all rights reserved.

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