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QUECHOLAC: A folk baroque jewel in Puebla

Even in its present condition - ravaged by the earthquakes of 1999 - the ruined temple of La Merced, Quecholac, remains one of the most attractive colonial buildings in the state of Puebla.

Located some 60 kms east of the city of Puebla, just off the busy Mexico-Veracruz autopista, the rather forlorn village of Quecholac boasts two colonial monuments of interest: the old Franciscan basilican church of La Magdalena, noted for its colonial retablos, and the Temple of La Merced.

While conventional in outline, the 18th century facade and standing triple gateway of La Merced are densely sculpted in stucco relief, fascinating examples of the highly distinctive "folk baroque" style of this region. (Other examples can be seen at Jolalpan*, Atlixco, and the nearby churches of Los Reyes and San Pablo de Las Tunas, as well as the amazing Temple of Tepalcingo* in neighboring Morelos.)

Both the facade and the standing gateway encompass a dizzying mix of architectural styles. Classical friezes jostle with vine-encrusted spiral Baroque columns around lobed Moorish arches and openings, all framed with bands of arabesque and foliated ornament. Sculpted reliefs include numerous figures of angels and archangels, some set in decorative niches and others emblazoned above the archways.

The Spanish royal arms and those of the Mercedarian order flank the elaborate niche in the upper facade, once doubtless occupied by the Virgin of Mercy but now empty. Decapitated statues of saints occupy the lower niches, although the Virgin in the niche above the gateway has kept her head.

The lone tower, currently in a state of near collapse, sets precariously on its cracked base, the most interesting feature here being a primitive relief of St. Barbara.


Pictures & text ©2000 byRichard D. Perry

For more on the colonial churches of Puebla, consult the Puebla/Tlaxcala section of our archive, and our guidebook, Mexico's Fortress Monasteries.

*Look for a future page on Tepalcingo and Jolalpan