Exploring Colonial Mexico©
Jewels of Jalisco
The small towns and city barrios around Guadalajara afford an enormous variety of intriguing art and architecture for the aficionado of colonial and religious art to explore. In other web pages (see links at foot of page) and in our guidebook Blue Lakes & Silver Cities we have described several of these.
All of these monuments are noted for the beauty of their building stone and the high quality of stonecarving. One example of this craftsmanship that recently came to our notice is the little 18th century temple of Huentitán Bajo, in the northeastern suburbs of Guadalajara, close to the rugged Barranca de Huentitán.
Formerly an independent village, the community has now been virtually absorbed by the rapidly expanding boundaries of the city.
Huentitán is traditionally renowned for its skilled stonemasons. It is also a prime historic source for attractive quarrystone - cantera dorada - a finegrained, honey-colored, oolitic limestone which, being soft and easily worked, was preferred for many of Guadalajara's finest buildings.
This same stonework
is seen at its best in the local church of the Ascension.
The 18th century church, dated 1734 by an inscription, was built
over a 16th century Franciscan hospital chapel. Its sober baroque
front stands above a broad span of stone steps and, in typical
regional style, is emphatically outlined by its grand portal,
prominent cornices and soaring gable. The atrium was a former
cemetery and some old tombstones still stand in the porteria.
< Virtuoso stonecarving is evident throughout the building, But the sculptural piece de resistance is its exuberant main altar, recessed in a stylish narrow apse and framed by columns set in undulating drum cornices.
Mounted on the altar is a lifesize 17th century crucifix - the Ascended Christ (Nuestro Señor de la Ascensión) to whom the temple is dedicated. The graphically depicted figure, carved from hard mezquite wood, is set against an undulating cruciform frame in ornate rococo style.
Two other stone retablos, dedicated to St. Joseph and John the Baptist, stand along the nave. There is also a monolithic baptismal font.
Another remarkable carved stone monument at Huentitán is the tall column or funerary stela, erected in front of the adjacent casa cural.
Incised with a large cross, it is densely carved with historic information on the church, including several dates. >
A carved atrial cross also stands in the garden.
SOURCES AND LINKS:
< Our complete guide to the colonial cities of Jalisco, Michoacán, Guanajuato and Querétaro