Ex Convento Dominicano

Monastery in Cuilapan

Standing by the highway in dusty Cuilapan, the Ex Convento Dominicano (aka Santiago Apóstol) with its pale 'green' stone walls seems almost to grow out of the land. With half the building missing a roof, one's immediate conclusion is that it's just another ruin. On the contrary, the building was never actually finished. Work on the long low church in front of the monastery with its stately arches and detailed stone carving stopped in 1560 due to financial disputes.

Behind is the church that succeeded it, which contains the tomb of Juana Donají (daughter of Cosijoeza, the last Zapotec king of Zaachila) and is normally open only for Mass (noon and 5pm Saturday and Sunday). Adjoining the church is a two-story Renaissance-style cloister. A painting of Mexican independence hero Vicente Guerrero hangs in the small room where he was held in 1831 before being executed by soldiers supporting the rebel conservative Anastasio Bustamante. Outside, a monument marks the spot where he was shot.

Aside from its roofless church and Guerrero associations, the convent is notable for its Moorish architectural influences and faded murals that incorporate some unusual indigenous themes.

Advertisement