Sunday, March 26, 2017

Chiapas. Escuintenango

In our previous post we visited the ruined Dominican mission of Soyatitán, located on the old colonial Camino Real in Chiapas.  
   Here we look at another of the ruined Dominican missions along this route, whose surviving remnants lie just off the Pan American highway near the Guatemala border.
Escuintenango in 2010
Situated beside the San Gregorio river, a tributary of the upper Grijalva, the Escuintenango mission was founded in the mid 1500s. The present church was built sometime around 1600 but was finally abandoned by 1800. Today it stands on private land, the Rancho San Francisco, in the municipio of Comitán.
The convento has largely gone, and the bell tower is the only readily distinguishable feature of the once monumental church to remain.  
   Ruined sections of the polygonal apse and massive nave walls still protrude from the surrounding vegetation, their earthen cores set in crumbling retaining walls of rudely fashioned local "chac" limestone.
The tower retains part of its surmounting belfry and encloses remnants of a spiral, caracol stairway. A few decorative details can still be made out, notably some bulbous half columns and an empty shell niche that until recently contained the headless statue of a saint—possibly the unknown mission patron.
Escuintenango in 2016
text & graphic © 2017 Richard D. Perry
color photography courtesy of Niccolò Brooker (2016) and Bob Guess (2010)

for more on colonial Chiapas consult our guidebook
for further details on Escuintenango consult Sidney Markman's classic  

Architecture and Urbanization in Colonial Chiapas, Mexico

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