Mexatua Tour Day 4: Discovering Tzintzuntzan

An interesting aside: the large grounds have many olive trees that are very old, having been imported from Spain at the time the convent was built.

An interesting aside: the large grounds have many olive trees that are very old, having been imported from Spain at the time the convent was built.

By Lucille Arneson

Visit to Templo de Santiago in Tupataro On our last day of the tour, after finishing our Continental breakfasts at the hotel, we found ourselves on the way to the town of Tzintzuntzan, which in the Perepechan language means place of humming birds. First, though, we stopped at the little town of  Tupataro to view the very old Temple de Santiago. This is one of the most interesting old structures in the area around Pátzcuaro.

It was built in 1775. Indian artists painted the entire ceiling of wood plank with scenes from the life and death of Jesus, the Christ, and the Virgin Mary. The altarpiece, (retablo) shows Santiago (St. James) in the center with the ?Eternal Father? above him. The dove of peace crowns the painting.

The floors are of wooden planks and cover the places where important people were buried. The portions that cover the tombs are cut and fitted in with the main floor, so they may be lifted. The church, including the painted ceiling, was restored in 1994 by the National Institute of Anthropology, which oversees its maintenance.

This is another place you will want to put on your itinerary, when visiting this area.

Visit to Ex Convento franciscano in Tzintzuntzan

Next, we stopped at the Ex Convento franciscano in Tzintzuntzan, which is being restored and in some parts, reconstructed. An imposing structure, it was built at the end of the 16th century and early 17th, and fell into major disrepair in the ensuing years. There were steps to begin restoration in the 1980s, but the plan hit major roadblocks and the project halted until 2002, when Adopt a Work took over the project.

The central patio is surrounded by arched corridors of pillars, which are awaiting restoration. The inside walls have been mostly restored and they were able save some of the original painted walls, which have been placed over the new plaster to create a most pleasing effect, as they give us a glimpse of what the inside wall looked like when first built.

An interesting aside: the large grounds have many olive trees that are very old, having been imported from Spain at the time the convent was built. I understand they are the only olive trees in Mexico, as Spain decided they didn?t want any competition in the production of olives!

This is definitely another site that you do not want to miss when visiting the area.

Casa Espíritu Libre

The last property on the list for sale was Casa Espíritu Libre in Tzintzuntzan. This is a delightful country home in a delightful setting within a private fenced and gated community with private access to Lake Pátzcuaro. There are views of the lake and the tallest mountain around the lake, Cerro Zirate. There are ten properties in the group and are spread over a five acre area. In the common areas are a boat launch, bodega, residence for a gardner, well for irrigation. All services are provided.

On the first floor is a kitchen, dining area, living room with fire place, two bedrooms and two baths. On the second floor is a lovely sitting room overlooking the lake and mountains, a large bedroom with private bath and dressing room, a small bedroom or large walk-in closet. There is an outdoor grill and Jacuzzi.

The house is built mainly of wood and brick, some areas were reinforced with steel and concrete supports. All windows have double pane 6 mm glass.

This being our last tour on the trip, we were pleasantly surprised to have the owner serve us a wonderful lunch of pozole with all the condiments and then some.

You would have to look far and wide for a better deal!

(This article was first published in October 2008 in my old website).

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