The Great Mosque of Cholula novohispana

In an earlier chapter suspicion that sat Córdoba, through its Great Mosque, was, in the last, inspiring element of some samples of Spanish American colonial architecture. If that story approach the issue of high-Californian architecture of the XVIII century missionary, offer another example in this, Mexican and sixteenth century, in the throes of conquest and colonization of the Aztec territory. Few examples beyond the Andalusian city have captured so masterfully spatial idea that building great Cordovan happily invented back in the distant eighth century.

Vista general de la ciudad de Cholula. First, the convent of San Gabriel.
Overview of the City . First, the convent of San Gabriel.
Aerial view of the whole San Gabriel. Cholula.
Aerial view of the whole San Gabriel. Cholula.

San Pedro Cholula, near the eponymous capital of the Mexican state of Puebla city, building complex houses an interesting: Convent of San Gabriel, in addition to the convent itself compound, for the call Chapel Real, prime example of how the Islamic and Andalusian influences crossed the pond in those initial moments of stylistic training native.

Axonometric perspective of the Royal Chapel of Cholula.
Axonometric perspective of the Royal Chapel of Cholula.

The Summa Artis (flight. XVIII, p. 156) it describes:

“The convent church is the conventual model nave, of five sections, covered vaulted terceletes, except in the sanctuary and choir loft, curves shows that the ribbed bands. What is truly remarkable is the Royal Chapel, built during the last quarter of the sixteenth century by the architect Toribio de Alcaraz, according to the allocation of Toussaint. As is known the Renaissance in their desire to regularly, symmetry and proportion found the ideal unit expression in plants. The square would be one of the favorite figures therefore the proportion 1:1 as for its symbolic value, since it is one of the primary symbols. Here in Cholula temple square plan was designed, Flat and many ships of equal width header which if it were a mosque. Apart from the foregoing Arabic, if there was an engraving by could well be the mysterious “Hall of a Hundred Columns” the third book of Serlio, según McAndrew. The separation of the ships is done by octagonal pillars, Mudejar; as we saw Angulo, the innumeralbes pillars create a beautiful game in perspective, evoking the memory of the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Of course, ratios outside imposed horizontal, which were offset by the slender bell, now disappeared.”

Plant the Royal Chapel of Cholula.
Plant the Royal Chapel of Cholula.

Norma Angélica Castillo Palma, in its Cholula mestizo society in Indian city. An analysis of the demographic, economic and social mixing in a city novohispana (1649-1796) (Mexico, Autonomous Metropolitan University, 2001) indicates:

“On a sidewalk east of the square was the Franciscan convent with the church of San Gabriel. With the Indian Chapel of the Third Order and the monastery formed an ensemble of great magnitude and quality, the disclosure made by the provincial of the order of San Francisco says:

[…] comprising and then consisted of; a cement wall fencing four yards high, has two inputs each is two masonry arches with their coronazón, sustained by means of two columns machined stone: …It has long geometric hundred and fifteen steps is the length of the plaza …ESTAM three buildings in their environment. The first is the Chapel of the Indians, one of the most beautiful plants of both Spains, is home box as it is hollow hundred paces wide (…) consists of nine ships seven domes that make each sixty three vaults (…) The form of this building, for better understanding of it, is the same as that of the Cathedral of Cordoba in Andalusia… (Immediately) Chapel of the third order is the second courtyard building and this also (is) attached to the main church… Convent” (General Archive of the Indies. Notary Chamber, Flight. 251-A, Fs 36-40, 20 April 1669).

However, against this thesis, the web page Township Cholula makes clear:

“The architectural plan of the Chapel Royal, against common opinion, It is not based on any Islamic mosque, but in the cosmic conception of Mexican ancestry. The nine north-south represent nine levels from earth to sky. The seven ships from east to west representing Chicomecoatl, Mother Earth, whose feast is celebrated in the Chapel Royal under the name Altepetlhuitl or Fiesta del Pueblo (el previous Sunday to Pentecost). At this festival employers images come beautifully decorated with fruits, zucchini, chiles, mazorcas, bread and everything else thanks to what was harvested during the year.”

Capilla Real de Cholula. Interior.
Capilla Real de Cholula. Interior.

We do not believe that both hypotheses are to be contradictory. Clearly, the specific architectural concept and the formal elements that develop derived from Andalusian-Islamic experiences, European-African, Renaissance Eastern. And that, and the embroidery, tal concepto, by definition, is able to adapt to the Aztec symbology so so amazing. That was the great success of the Cordoba Mosque: create an infinite architectural module, unclosed, adaptable to any role or functions, from Japanese university libraries to airport terminals, passing, obviously, by novohispanas mestizo churches of the sixteenth century.

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  1. The pro-indigenous attempt to give spiritual meaning to an ancient temple seems a little forced, perhaps even political.
    Amigo Mabuse, where do you get such a gem, It is perhaps to come to visit you and the seller of Metro I catch a slow day or what?. Your turn to American soil seems very interesting. There are many who have written Cordoba pages, and other memorable to forget, in the history of these lands sisters.
    Congratulations, not cease to amaze me.

    • Thanks, Publican. The Calleja gives me the opportunity to explore my creativity numbed by circumstances. And while I may find Córdoba in the most unexpected places. East San Gabriel knew old, perhaps while studying Spanish American Art, awkwardly framed art in a final appendix to the subject of History of Modern Art, but I had forgotten, hidden in all the gray areas that I studied later. New technologies-not so new- have given me their happy reunion.

      More testimonials almost contemporaries Factory Royal Chapel. This time Father Bernabé Cobo, through a letter dated March 7 Puebla of 1630 in describing the social situation of Cholula and gives us an impression of the said Royal Chapel cholulteca:

      “… I went through Cholula and the largest village I've seen in my life but between Sevilla if all he was formerly populated as, But four parts are ruined three; with all that you have ten thousand tributary and live in the village to 400 Spanish; has two churches pushed to the other: one is the model of the mosque of Cordova eight buildings with stone columns.”

      Between discussions and Cajasur Sadeco, I recommend reading an interesting article by George Kubler, The Traza colonial de Cholula. Good, any one tell me or do not know what will be more tiresome…

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