A country laden in cultural and tradition ethics, Mexico parades of a rich, resplendent and opulent plethora of architecture that asseverates the Mexican lifestyle. Swathed in artistic significance the pedestal bearing the Mexican architecture has metamorphose as the years progressed. This gradual mutation in the style manifests the cultural reforms alongside evincing the characteristic of each era. Graduating from the indigenous styling of the pre-Hispanic to the flamboyant structures of the contemporary Mexico has voyaged eons tailoring the architectures in fashion of the era.

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The palace at Palenque

Pre-Hispanic era

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The pre-Hispanic epoch embodies the indigenous style of architecture that revamped from simple and austere to intricate and elaborated all along highlighting sophistication and suaveness. The build of these Mesoamerican structures were forged out of adobe and stone, stratified chiefly into Puuc style and oasis American style. From the multi stories houses to the cave dwelling the range of the structures varied in complexity. The oldest of the architectural structures were discovered to have erect around the 7th century. The studies account to the Tollen phase of the early Mexico harboring the Tula archaeological zone comprises of two pyramidal bases, two courts for the ballgame and a multitude of palaces inhabited by the elites of Teotihuacan. The ancient Mesoamerican city was even listed as a world heritage site by the UNESCO in 1987.

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  • Puuc style: This indigenous style garnished the Mexican architectural and iconographic elements which can be seen in the buildings of Chichen Itza. The classic Mayan architectures displays a fusion of cultures from central Mexico blended with the Puuc style of the Upper Peninsula. The annexation of the Mayans by the Toltec’s resulted in the insemination of these elements into the motif of the structured.

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Temple of warriors in Chichen Itza, Mexico
  • Oasis American Style: a style that harbors a glint of uniqueness. This architectural influence can be seen in parts of the New Mexico with its adobe buildings and ‘T’ form doors. Use of wood, reed and stone alongside characterizing the multifamily adobe houses demonstrated the skills of pre-Hispanic architects.

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The modern day explorers are left enthralled and mesmerized at the finesse of the tombs and palaces, drainage system and passages adorning the pre-Hispanic garb.

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Colonial period

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The colonization of Mexico by the Spanish lugged along with it a genre of art that revolutionized the artistic grandeur of the Mexican sculptures. The Spanish twirl to the indigenous adobe and stone Mexican architecture was espied by the classic as well as Arabic working style narrated in the builds of the great cathedrals and civic buildings. The urban setting housed styles of the baroque and Mannerist caliber which sketched the Mexican architecture in an apparel that sported an eminent decorative- theatrical and renaissance style. The architectural build threw light on its semblance to the European art symbolizing its vast difference from the pre-colonial era. While the rural areas aboding the manor estates and hacienda houses were garnished with the Mozarabic elements which displayed an assimilation of Islamic decorative motifs and houses structured in a fashion that gave a distinctive character to the architecture.

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The design and the build of the churches manifested new features for instance the open chapel, the atriums with the customary stone cross at the center and many such decorative elements, branding the European touches in the Mexican arts. From monastic structures to the fortresses of the convent, were spruced with the Spanish theme.

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The convents were used as training centers where the non-Catholics could learn the arts and trades alongside the European social customs. These centers were used as a hub to facilitate medical treatment as well as hold in funerals. These establishments are the illustrations of the artistic indigenous masterpiece created under the supervision of the catholic friars. The tequitqui style adopted in these sculptured architectures is a stamp of the techniques practiced by the ancestors.

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The cathedral of Mérida Cathedral in Yucatán

The prime example of the colonial era architecture is The Mérida Cathedral in Yucatán, The Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City, The church of Santa María Tonantzintla in the Puebla State, casting the opulence of the renaissance period. The architectures were flamboyant, daring and unrefined with a strikingly unique allure.

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  • Baroque Architecture: Baroque was a style dominant in the art and architecture of the colonial era. The ambition circling the concept was to paint and sculpt iconographic elements on the churches, believed to be the center of community life, to reinforce the church doctrine. The design of the churches in the early colonial epoch followed the rectilinear pattern of square and cubes over the contemporary European churches that echoed the patterns of curves and orbs. The altered theme in the Mexican baroque, a touch different than the Spanish baroque was showcased in the introverted essence and its focus which was highlighted with the rich ornamentation of the main altar. The purpose was to retain the attention on the central themes. The style fostered the elements of columns and pilasters embellished with Salmonic (dramatic twists) and estipite (an inverted truncated pyramid) designs. The structures symbolized a “purist” style where while the rest of the building was bare of any decoration, the space between the capital (topmost part of the column) and the base was embellished artistically.

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Church with Baroque- Talavera tiling

As the style walked through the years it forked out into a number of sub styles scilicet the ‘Estucado baroque’, ‘Talavera Baroque’ and many others. While the Estucado baroque nurtured a style featuring a mingle of stucco and gold leaf or paint which was purely decorative devoid of any architectural attribute, the Talavera baroque was the style accented the use of hand- painted ceramic tiles which reflected the pottery industry.

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Central courtyard of the government palace of Michoacán

Some of the prime examples of the baroque cultures incorporation in the Mexican architectures are Chapel del Rosario in Puebla and the church of Tonantzintla.

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  • Neoclassism: the academy of Academy of San Carlos erected in 1785 had the sole purpose of training sculptors, painters and architects. Neoclassism was the theme it emphasized and promoted which worked on the lines of Greek and Roman architecture. Examples showcasing the style were the Palacio de Mineria in the Mexico city, the Hospicio Cabanas in Guadalajara, and the Alhondiga de Granaditas.
Palacio de Mineria, Mexico city

Post-colonial Mexico

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As the years swept by the plaque holding the architectural style travelled classic to renaissance and finally during the early nineteenth century vouchsafed an urban twist to the designs. The term featuring the rule of President Porfirio Diaz manifested within their motifs a theme that was unknown to the Mexicans of the timeline. The chief and sole aim was to forge an architecture that blended modern art with the traditional Mexican charm that would frame a statement for the eccentricity in the Mexican art. This era stationed Mexico’s position as modern and sophisticated having a boost of indigenous charisma. The structures were molded using cast iron, European granite, Italian marble bronzes and stained glass. Classical designs were used to build structures such as the  Monument to Cuauhtémoc, the Angel of Independence monument, the monument to Benito Juarez, and the Columbus Statue enacting the decree established by president Diaz in 1877 calling out for the placement of statues to honor the heroes of Mexican history. 

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Monument to Cuauhtemoc, Mexico City

With the commencement of the 20th century Mexicans indulged more and more into the style of architecture that remarked a national and pre- Hispanic vibe.

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The Mexican revolution brought about distinctive change in the trajectory in which the history of Mexican architecture was heading. The post-revolutionary epoch garnered a heady belief that in attempt to color the atmosphere with modern twists the true indigenous relics and traditional symbolisms had somehow went adrift. The institute of hygiene in Popotla, is a fine example of how the idealization of the past had worked its way into the future projects.

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Monument to the revolution

The mid twentieth century witnessed the steps towards insertion of the antiquity of the Mexican architecture into the current style, turn concrete. Ciudad University outside Mexico City, a joint venture that incorporated the art of Mexican muralists. The most remarkable integration of the mural art in the Mexican architecture is in the University library which features the monumental mosaic design. In addition to that the church Nuestra Señora de los Milagros also bears the hallmark of the expressionistic and eye catching appeal.

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The Mexican architects synthesized a completely original modernist architecture that beheld an austere, classic feel that complemented the surrounding.

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The Neo-Barragánesque library, The School of Theater (1994) and the School of Dance (1994), by Luis Vicente Flores showcased the desired fusion architecture that threw light onto the new image of Mexico as an industrialized nation bearing a global specter. The whisking of bold colors in the modern Mexican architecture bestowed that structure with a unique unparalleled by any other. The rich mix of colors gives the diverseness and characteristic lure to the culture of Mexico.

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From the pre-colonial era to the contemporary modern with blended antiquity, the Mexican architecture traveled through phases that depicted how opulent, warm, vivid and expressing the architecture of Mexico is. The structures and building exhibits the dynamics of Mexico and the Mexicans alike.

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