Category Archives: architecture

Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico

Photo I shot at Dolores Hidalgo, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.

One of the many churches that stand since colonial times — many made with cantera stone, which create the delicate soft color. Also, tiles and other artistic expressions were used to decorate the facade of Mexican churches.

A town populated by talavera ceramic artisans.

While visiting Dolores, I always love to stroll at the local market, where fresh produce and prepared food is available. The outskirts of the town are populated with artisans who work 24/7 on the creation of pottery and home decor based on talavera ceramic. Although tourism is what nowadays is making Dolores stand, talavera ceramic is still by far the main reason Dolores thrive.

Located in Central Mexico, in Guanajuato state. 10 hour drive from the US-Mexico border — give or take.



Colonial Hallway at Mexico

Photo I shot at San Lorenzo monastery in Tultitlan, located in northern Mexico City metro area.

If you like Mexican history you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

Monastery at Tultitlan, Mexico. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña. Monastery at Tultitlan, Mexico. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.

Quick (very quick) guide to Tepotzotlan, Mexico

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

In the northwestern outskirts of Mexico City metro area is located this little place. Once a town by itself, nowadays it has been gnashed by the unyielding growth of the Mexican capital urban sprawl.

Tepotzotlan is a small town and municipality which houses many baroque treasures and ancient indigenous relics from its past. During weekends the stretched-street town enjoys (or sometimes suffers) the overwhelming tourist packs that either visit its local eateries or attend upscale pompous weddings (mainly from outsiders, people from other parts of the city). This tourist magnet can become a tourist trap if not properly knowledgeable of what to do or visit.

If you’re into culture.

Tepotzotlan has the Museum of the Viceroyalty or Museo del Virreinato. Before it was an independent (so they say) nation, it was the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Although the name conveys the idea of all-things colonial, don’t get fooled because inside the monastery turned museum you can also find ancient native pieces, art, statues and ceramics. Every now and then they house old Mexican music concert (no, not from the 1970’s, I mean really old and rare music).

Maybe your more of a sporty kind of person.

Nearby Tepotzotlan downtown area there’s a gorgeous botanical garden called Xochitla. It is a five minute drive from the town’s main streets. The place, once an old hacienda or Mexican plantation, has a wide variety of activities. You can to biking, rollerskating, running, outdoor photography, and much more. They also have activities for the wee ones.

Or perhaps you like going off the usual path.

The town is situated in the beginning of a mountain range. Access to climb or trek the mountain exist. For instance, there’s the Tepotzotli. Up in the mountain one can see river streams and large forest patches (I will post pictures of my trip up there).

Maybe you’re just into tourist traps.

If so, Tepotzotlan has restaurants, bars, street eateries, a local market with true Mexican food, crafts, art, and sometimes public events like shows, live music, and native dancers.

Tepotzotlan, Mexico. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña. Tepotzotlan, Mexico. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.

Santa Cecilia Acatitlan Pyramid

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

This temple is one of the best surviving examples of late Mexica Aztec architecture. Bear in mind all things during the arrival of the Hispanics was leveled down or destroyed. But this temple survived.

This building is a blueprint of what other temples looked like in Mexica Aztec times.

Though small, it was after all a temple of a very small town. And yet it is a remarkable building from which to gather an idea of what buildings might have looked like during those times. All followed the same pattern — temple in the top, steep raised walls with almost no inclination, the form of the stairs as shown, and the stylized way the top temple roof was. This is serves as a blueprint for all tall buildings and temples in Mexica Aztec times, politically known as the Triple Alliance instead of Aztec Empire (as commonly referred to).

Locatec in northern Mexico City metro area.

It is located in Santa Cecilia Acatitlan, once a town it is now a neighborhood within the Tenayuca town, in Tlalnepantla municipality. This temple is in northern Mexico City metro area, an urban sprawl surrounded by many (and I literally mean many) municipalities, towns, and small cities. A few minute driving time is located Tenayuca, which houses older pyramids than this one.

One way of visiting it is by commuting train.

Santa Cecilia Pyramid is used as a symbol for the commuting train station. The train (locally known as Tren Suburbano) connects Mexico City’s downtown with its vicinity north of the city. So, if you’re ever in this train, try and hop down in Tlalnepantla station signalled by its symbol, the pyramid.

Note: The word pyramid is used, however the correct term is temple, teocalli, or its equivalent in another native language. It is not a pyramid, those are in Egypt.

Santa Cecilia Pyramid in Tenayuca, Mexico City. Copyright 2012 Miguel Omaña. Santa Cecilia Pyramid in Tenayuca, Mexico City. Copyright 2012 Miguel Omaña.

The Queretaro pyramid

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

The central link between the Chupicuaro Domain and the Teotihuacan nation. A city enriched by Otomies and Chichimecs. It has architecture elements similar to other Otomi sites in Queretaro state.

This temple honors the 13 heavens.

Currently called the Queretaro Pyramid or El Cerrito. It is located in northern Central Mexico (nearby the Bajio region), in the capital of the state of Queretaro (same name). It is at much three-hour driving north of Mexico City. This temple or teocalli honors the 13 heavens which Ancient Mexicans believed superior realms of existence were divided.

An echo of yesteyear glories.

Today only the echo of yesteryear glories remains. A distant echo that seemed a weak whisper that struggle to stand against the tyranny of oblivion in the face of other peoples fortuitous raucous fame.

Note: Pyramid is the widely used name, although correct terms encompass temple, teocalli, and its equivalents in other native languages.

Queretaro pyramid. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Queretaro pyramid. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Chichen Itza Palace of Captain Sun Disc

Photo and text: Miguel Omaña.
A spectacle to the eyes that rivals any of the famed cities of yesteryear.

The great Chichen Itza city had a beautiful blend of artistic and architecture influences at its facades and metropolitan structures. One such example where the high directive of Chichen Itza’s ahauob of assimilating the culture of vanquished people at war, is this building today dubbed as of “The Nuns”. It is an architectonic complex where Puuc style is fused, with a pinch of Chenes style. A work surrounded by an obvious Toltec influenced city, plus the effort to keep Classical Maya writing, and the native architecture, brings a spectacle to the eyes. A spectacle that rivals any of the famed cities of yesteryear, and those of today. Even when its most famous creation is the worldwide famous pyramid, the buildings and palaces that surround it are equally gorgeous, and even more daring if judged with an artistic view.

In this building we can observe its intricate art that easily rivals with baroque expressions of our New World (Europe), or Islamic sacred art. Each bar, each circle, ends up being part of a bigger image. In this case, we see Chaac faces, the rain itself.

Above the door we can observe an image of a seated person, as if vigilantly watching (or checking) of who enters or walks in front of the entrance. It is General Sun Disc (also named Captain Sun Disc). An enigmatic person that in memorial times went to great battles accompanied by his Serpent Generals. Many of these battles were immortalized at murals, where Captain Sun Disc was painted leading the military takeover of cities south of Chichen Itza. A figure so militarized, that even when he may have been a revered Chichen Itza ancestor, his rank was remembered and went on with his own name. Just like the Caesars were called in honor of Julius Caesar, or the Quetzalcoatl pontiffs in the same manner. Maybe this building was constructed by Chichen Itza government to house the Captain Sun Disc in turn. And even when such a rank was in the military highly venerable, it must have fallen at some point to one of the ahauob who ruled Chichen Itza.

Inside of such luxurious building maya writing is found, revealing history data of the great capital of the Itzaes. In those glyphs were recorded, for readers of the future, who was the mother of Kakupacal Kauil (whose name was Lady Kayam Kuk), and who was his maternal grandmother (called Lady Ton Ajaw), y the big importance of both women celebrated in their times. Could we deduce that maybe the great Kakupacal Kauil lived in this palace complex? Or that maybe Kakupacal Kauil, besides being part of the ajauob who ruled Chichen Itza, he also excelled in war as to become a Captain Sun Disc?
Almost a thousand years later Chichen Itza still impresses, ourselves and abroad.

Chichen Itza, the city that got to put in check a world, with its modern politics, its unstoppable army, and commercial connections. Politics that talk of a nation ruled by more than one, instead of a sole person (be a military, divine, inherited, or by merit). An unstoppable army, that when rivaled, it did not hesitate to crush great and ancient domains. But who after stomping enemy governments, it absorbed its people and their culture for the glory of Chichen Itza. And the great commercial links that made it easier for the exchange of ideas through their impressive roads that rose above normal terrain. It was natural that its capital was to be beautiful, and its science exalted to our times of interplanetary travels and smartphones. Almost a thousand years later Chichen Itza still impresses, ourselves and abroad.
Chichen Itza palace of Captain Sun Disc.
Chichen Itza palace of Captain Sun Disc. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña. 35 mm analog photography.