Following the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the early 1500s, Franciscan, Dominican, and Augustinian friars fanned out across the central and southern areas of the country, founding hundreds of mission churches and monasteries to evangelize the Native population. This book documents more than 120 of these remarkable sixteenth-century sites in duotone black-and-white photographs.
Virtually unknown outside Mexico, these complexes unite architecture, landscape, mural painting, and sculpture on a grand scale, in some ways rivaling the archaeological sites of the Maya and Aztecs. They represent a fascinating period in history when two distinct cultures began interweaving to form the fabric of modern Mexico. Many were founded on the sites of ancient temples and reused their masonry, and they were ornamented with architectural murals and sculptures that owe much to the existing Native tradition - almost all the construction was done by indigenous artisans.
With these photos, Spears celebrates this unique architectural and cultural heritage to help ensure its protection and survival.
About the Author
Beverley Spears is an architect, a landscape architect, and a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. Her firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has won numerous design awards for houses, schools, historic preservation, and community projects. She is also the author of American Adobes: Rural Houses of Northern New Mexico.