Faithful reader, Rose H., sent me a note a few weeks ago to say how much she loves pictures of Mexican churches and would I please include more in my blog. I, too, am fascinated by Mexican churches and thought that you might enjoy them, as well.
When I looked through the photos that I’ve taken since I moved to the Lake Chapala area about 4-1/2 years ago, I realized that I have a LOT of photos of churches, both inside and out. In this posting, I’ll show you a few exterior pictures I’ve taken in different towns and cities hereabouts. I have so many that I’ll need to break this up into at least two postings before I do anything with all the photographs I have of the interior of the churches.
The photo at the top of this post is of the so-called Catedral Inconclusa in Zamora, Michoacan, Mexico. Begun in 1898 (yes, that’s EIGHTEEN ninety-eight), this sanctuario is thisclose to being completed, but to my knowledge has not been finished just yet. It’s so amazing that I will likely dedicate an entire blog post to just it, but I love it so much, I wanted to get in at least one photo here. So, yes, that’s merely a “teaser” photograph.
We’ll start with the “main” church in Jocotepec, Jalisco, where I live. I say the main church, because there are numerous churches here. This one, located directly across the street from the plaza, is the largest of them and the one in which most processions end.
I have not found any definitive answer as to the age of the church, but the general consensus seems to be that the present-day structure dates from the early 1800’s. Its mortar and stone construction is fairly typical of churches built or, more likely, rebuilt during that time.
One of the most striking features of the exterior area are the huge palm trees next to it.
And even more interesting, to me, are the huge pots from which the palms appear to grow:
While Joco‘s main church is quite typical of churches in this area, here’s the main church in Mazamitla, Jalisco, which is decidedly atypical. Mazamitla itself has a Alpine look to it, which is odd enough, but for some reason, the church located on the square has an Oriental look to it:
This current structure dates from the mid-1950’s, so it’s very young by Mexican standards. One of the other things that makes the building unique here in Jalisco state is the amount of wood used. Wood is generally not used for building purposes around here. We use bricks, adobe, stones, ironwork, and mortar. But look at all the wooden spindles on this lovely church.
Churches in small pueblos around Lake Chapala generally have quite plain exteriors. Here’s the church in San Cristobal Zapotitlan on the south short of Lake Chapala. I lived a half a block from this church for 18 months:
The most “ornate” thing about the exterior area are these hand-done stars and circles in the church’s courtyard:
And here’s the main church in El Chante (Chantepec), Jalisco, the pueblo just east of Jocotepec:
The greenery on the church steps and the bright yellow and blue banners are in preparation for a religious festival.
The church next to the plaza in San Juan Cosala (the town next east of El Chante) is quite similar to the one in El Chante, but has the addition of a very high bell tower:
On fiesta days, intrepid young men with apparently no fear of heights, climb up into the bell tower and ring the bells with hammers!
In most churches around here, this is normally done using long ropes, which can be pulled with one’s feet planted safely on the ground!
Tizapan el Alto, Jalisco, located on the south shore of Lake Chapala, near the border with Michoacan state, has a beautiful main church very near the plaza:
It has soaring bell towers:
and a huge blue dome:
This church has got some serious age on it as you can tell from its many “layers.”
This is not an unusual sight around here. Oftentimes either additions are made to existing structures or stones and other materials from original structures are used in the construction of a new church.
Here’s another view of the church in Tizapan el Alto showing at least three different types of construction:
In Tapalpa, Jalisco, up in the mountains to the southwest of Jocotepec, the new church sits cheek-by-jowl with the old church:
The older structure was damaged by an earthquake and the new church was built immediately across the street from it and is the one used today.
We’ll continue our look at some of the many churches in my area of Mexico next time on “Travels with Barb.” Oh, wait. Sorry, I had a Lowell Thomas moment there. [Look it up, young readers.]