The grid-like placement of diamond-shaped tiles and barber-pole-striped columns on the façade of Santa Maria Tonantzintla of Cholula are striking. As with many buildings encountered in the state of Puebla, it leaves you wishing you could take the colors and patterns home with you to apply liberally on years of bland beige architecture dominating much of the American landscape.
The church’s name clearly indicates the early fusion of Catholicism and indigenous beliefs by the attachment of Tonantzin, the earth mother, to Santa Maria. But the facade’s unusual design cannot prepare you for the colorful multi-dimensional indigenous baroque figures covering the interior of the 17th-century church on the outskirts of Cholula, Puebla, where, unfortunately, no photos were allowed. No spot is left without copious adornment.
But photographs can come in handy. Following a fire consuming the wood carvings inside San Francisco Acatepec in 1939, earlier photographs taken by Guillermo Kahlo allowed for their duplication in the 1940s inside the colorful talavera-tiled 17th-century church.
But wait, I so want to see the church behind that locked gate guarded by a rather portly San Miguel…. And so many more.