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Influences of Spanish Architecture in Mexico

Spanish expeditions conducted during the seventh and eighteenth century has brought a variety of architectural and artistic influences to the different indigenous regions of the New Americas. It is documented that "the Architecture of Mexico began with the Spanish conquest of the country." (Mullen, 18) The architecture of Mexico has exhibited much richness and wealth, has displayed the political and religious conditions of the time, and has showed off the countries beauty and grace through different artistic devices, mainly through the ornamentation of buildings. The architecture that developed in Mexico during the military expeditions and colonization of Mexico has brought forth many different types of architecture to Mexico, three in particular, Franciscan, Mexican Baroque and Spanish Colonial Architecture. Historians have documented that the Franciscan, Mexican Baroque and Spanish Colonial Architecture found in Mexico is, "the transfer of architectural forms, ideas and traditions brought from Spain to the Americas by Spanish settlers" (Grizzard, 167). Historians believe that, "Spanish colonial architecture was a period of transition from the Spanish Gothic to Spanish Renaissance" (Mullen, 76)

When observing the architecture found in Mexico one has to wonder about how much influence the Spanish Colonialists had on this country. Much of the influence the Spanish Colonialists had on Mexican Architecture came from their conquests over the Native Indians of the Americas. Historically, Mexico has been a war-torn religiously, socially, economically, and political areas of the country. As the Spanish Conquerors dominated the Natives, their influence spread thoroughly throughout the Americas. The result was an aristocratic government where the natives were not given any chance of self-expression. Under these conditions, it was natural for the Architecture of the New Americas to have been brought from Spain.

As it has been found throughout the history of the Americas that, "the church [has] worked in conjunction with the military to dominate the Native Indians." (Behav, 306). Many of the buildings built by the church and the military have become monumental features of Mexico. The architecture that first pioneered its way through Mexico was the Franciscan order. Most of the buildings built during this period were "mostly fortresses and were strictly utilitarian, most of them being built in a Romanesque style" (Behav, 309). Churches built during this period usually had a dome along with a rectangular plan. This was the period of introduction to both domes and the cruciform plan in the New Americas.

During the Spanish conquest through the Americas the conquistadores discovered mining as a valuable commodity in Mexico. Knowing how precious these metals were, the conquistadores forced the Indians to labor for large quantities of these precious minerals. The Spaniards also found lot of material available for the use of masonry. All of these conditions made it possible for the construction of many churches, palaces, houses, bridges, and aqueducts to have been built. The advancement of Spanish architecture in the New Americas incorporated different styles, which include Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Moorish, Mudejar and the Churrigueresque orders.

All these different orders of architecture brought from Spain have highly influenced the religious life of American Natives. There are three cities in Mexico in which I noticed an important significance of religious architecture in the community; these being Puebla, Cholula, and Tlaxcala, each colonial city displaying different styles of colonial architecture. The architecture in Puebla, Mexico is comprised of Franciscan and Mexican Baroque Architecture. The city of Puebla is found about 60 miles southeast of Mexico City. Throughout its history is has been known by various names: City of Angels, City of Tiles, and Heroic City of Zaragosa. The city of Puebla was established on 1531. Puebla was the principal city of colonial Mexico and is the most European of all the colonial cities.

The most monumental building in the city of Puebla is the first cathedral that was built there. The Church of Puebla was first built on the site in 1532 and then again some more four years later in 1536. A few later years later it was brought down and the raising of the Cathedral, in 1552 was begun. The construction was begun by Phillip II. Later Phillip III sent new plans for a new Cathedral to be built, appointing Juan Gomez de Mora as the architect. This was later approved by Phillip IV, who made more modifications to the plans and proposed for Pedro Garcia Ferrer, who came to Spain in 1640, to supervise the construction of the cathedral. In 1649 most of the building was completed with the exception of the faÐ"§ade and the south tower. The faÐ"§ade of the building was later finished with an inscription over the central entrance stating the completion of the cathedral in 1664. The south tower was erected later in the eighteenth century. During this period architects purposely made the towers of the buildings proportionately higher than the building itself.

The faÐ"§ade of the Cathedral is a simple design, enriched by fine sculpture and decorative carvings done in white marble. There are two reliefs located over the doorway. The right low relief over the doorway represents San Francisco receiving the stigmata; that on the left is a representation of the infant Jesus in the arms of the virgin and Sata Rosa, presenting a crown of roses. The atrium of the building forms a stone paved platform, particularly large at the entrance. There is an iron fence that surrounds it. This fence was a memorial to Pope Pius IX by the Sociedad Catolica in 1878. On the north side of the cathedral is the large plaza of the city.

The dome was designed by Ferrer. It is covered with yellow and green tiles, giving the dome a greenish gold effect. The other domes and tops of towers are covered with red and yellow tile. The building has a length of 323 feet and a width of 101 feet, with an interior height of 80 feet. The dÐ"©cor of the building is done in gray stone. The vaulting of the building has been treated in white and gold.

The best feature of the Puebla Cathedral is the choir. The screen of the choir was done by Master Mateo de la Cruz in 1697. Within the choir, there are carving in the stone walls above the woodwork of the choir stalls. There is an inscription on the front of the choir describing how the work was done by Master Mateo de la Cruz, who began its construction on August 24, 1719 and finished it on June 24, 1722.

Towards the end of the 17th century a prosperous society



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