Photo of the week – Dominican Monastery in Santiago Apostol Cuilapan in Oaxaca
Cuilapan means River of Coyotes in náhuatl. This little village in Oaxaca has an amazing monastery from the 16th century.
Once the Jesuits were expelled from the area to the North, the Dominicans came here and wanted to convert all the Indians to their religion. However, because of the very often earthquakes here, the natives were scared to enter the monastery that it could fall down at them during an earthquake. The Mixteca and Zapoteca preferred to die than to enter a monastery or a chapel. So the Dominicans built them Capilla de Indios (Indians’ Chapel or so called Open Chapel) without a part of the roof, saying it was safer in case of an earthquake. During the sunset, the light comes in through the hole and it illuminates the whole chapel. Interesting, right?
Then Benito Juárez, a Zapotec from here, closed all the monasteries, the Dominicans had to leave the place and the monastery became a military base. The soldiers thought one of the shining walls was decorated with gold so they cut it off to find out they were wrong and afterwards the wall had to be reconstructed.
The monastery is famous thanks to one more thing that happened here. Vicente Guerrero, a president of Mexico, was handed over at the one of the Huatulco Bays, beach called La Entrega and then took here to the monastery where he was assassinated afterwards. It is commemorated by his statue behind the monastery.
My trip to Cuilapam was sponsored by travel agency Oaxaca Místico and done by the best and the funniest tourist guide ever, Víctor. However, all the opinions in this post are honest and just mine.