TlaxiacoFrom prehistoric times Tlaxiaco, located in the Mixteca region of northern Oaxaca, has straddled the main trade route from the Valley of Mexico to the Pacific coast (now Rte 125). Recognizing its strategic location, the Aztecs established a garrison here in the 15th century to control commerce as well as access to the surrounding highlands.
Following the collapse of the Aztec empire and the founding of the Spanish settlement, a substantial Dominican mission was established here in the 1540s—the first in Oaxaca.
In the upper facade, this classical severity is softened by later additions, notably the towers and a prominent projecting cornice that wraps around the buttresses, interrupted at intervals by “cut and curl” rococo flourishes—a decorative device repeated in the gable above.
|image © Felipe Falcón|
Four lofty ribbed vaults, also from the 16th century, cover the bays along the nave, each springing from drum corbels set in a running cornice that encircles the nave in classic Dominican style.
The newly renovated, ribbed under choir, decorated in white, beige and gold with prominent carved bosses, is especially stylish.
Despite the later makeover, few colonial furnishings have survived inside the church, notably an inlaid pulpit and a partial, gilded retablo in classic Oaxacan baroque style.
There is also a grand, early 19th century pipe organ, set on its own elevated balcony beside the choir loft. Now restored to playing condition, it is one of the most sonorous in Oaxaca—whose musical timbre we enjoyed during a concert there on our recent Historic Organ tour.
text © 2007, 2014 Richard D. Perry. graphic by the author. All rights reserved