Monday, March 23, 2020

Chiapas. Forgotten Missions of the Camino Real: Aquespala

Another ruined mission along the old Camino Real in Chiapas is that of San Nicolás Aquespala. 
One of the longer lived missions in this group, Aquespala was founded shortly after 1550 to resettle Lacandon and Coxoh speaking Maya and survived as a community until almost 1900. Located near the Río San Juan, which also flows into the Grijalva, the convento and much of the church - mostly built of adobe - have returned to the earth. 
The massive stone church front though, added in the 1600s and formerly faced with stucco, however remains largely intact, owing to its masonry construction. Great stone slabs inside and out make up sturdy curtain walls enclosing a mud-and-boulder core.
   In its design, the facade follows the format we saw at Coapa, although here simpler and more harmonious, with three broad bays and three tiers framed by giant pilasters. 
Although the crowning belfries and central espadaña have largely crumbled away, as at nearby Escuintenango the remnants of a caracol stairway are embedded in the facade on its north side.
text © 2020 Richard D. Perry

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