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San José de Irapuato

Along with Salamanca and Celaya, its gritty neighbors on the dusty high plain of Mexico's Bajío, the city of Irapuato attracts few foreign visitors.

But at its heart lies a wide variety of historic buildings, representing many of the architectural styles of the Spanish colonial era­an unexpected reward for the traveler willing to penetrate its unprepossessing outskirts.

The most colorful of these historic buildings is the 18th century church of San José, conspicuous for its extravagant facade, painted dark red and sculpted in popular "Churrigueresque" fashion.

Capped by a high, lobed gable, the soaring church front is divided by ornate estípite pilasters into tiers of ornamental canopied niches containing baroque statuary.

Of special interest is the Calvary tableau in the upper facade which features Christ on the cross flanked by the mourning figures of Mary and St. John the Evangelist. John the Baptist stands above the scene, framed in an elaborate niche at the apex of the gable.

More information on the colonial buildings of Irapuato and the neighboring cities of the Bajío can be found in Blue Lakes and Silver Cities, our guidebook to West Mexico.