Capital of the state of Morelos, Mexico
Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl
Location and site
These 14 monasteries stand on the slopes of Popocatepetl, to the south-east of Mexico City. They are in an excellent state of conservation and are good examples of the architectural style adopted by the first missionaries – Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians – who converted the indigenous populations to Christianity in the early 16th century. They also represent an example of a new architectural concept in which open spaces are of renewed importance. The influence of this style is felt throughout the Mexican territory and even beyond its borders.
The monasteries also represent an example of a new architectural concepts in which open spaces are of renewed importance. The influence of this style is felt throughout the Mexican territory and even beyond its borders. The distinctive characteristic of these monasteries reside in the relationship between built and open spaces and, above all, in the emphasis placed on the wide forecourt or atrium with its individual posas and open chapels that offered a variety of solutions. The monasteries were founded in areas of dense indigenous settlement, with the object of providing focal points for urban settlements, a role which has survived to the present day.
Criterion (ii): The considerable influence exercised by the architectural model of the monasteries, which spread over a very wide area, is incontestable, because it operated not only in the second half of the 16th century in the centre and south-east of Mexico, but continued with the expansion of colonization and evangelization of the lands to the north in the 18th century, reaching the present-day USA from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts, in the form of a large number of smaller establishments known as “missions” rather than” monasteries.
Criterion (iv): The group of monasteries selected as being representative of the large total, considered both as a family and as an individual buildings bears characteristic witness to a certain type of the structure, architectural as well as urban, which served as the centre of new human establishments for the reorganization of an enormous territory and for the introduction of new social and cultural elements.
The earliest 16th- Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl is a serial property with 14 component parts located in the states of Morelos and Puebla in Mexico, built as part of the evangelization and colonization of the northern territories of Mexico. The monasteries are Atlatlahucan, Cuernavaca, Tetela del Volcan, Yautepec, Ocuituco, Tepoztlan, Tlayacapan, Totolapan, Yecapixtla, Hueyapan and Zacualpan de Amilpas in Morelos and Calpan, Huetotzingo and Tochimilco in Puebla. These monasteries are considered to represent good examples of the architectural style adopted by the first missionaries – Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians –, with spatial solutions and the architectural expressions that materialized the fusion and synthesis of heterogeneous elements. A considerable number of these buildings have an explicit military aspect, and compositional elements with definite Mudejar and Renaissance origin. The expression of the native culture is also present, from the open spaces used for worship to the work expressed on the decorations and the wall paintings.