World Heritage Site – Sanctuary of Jesus Nazareno de Atotonilco

Wednesday morning we went to see the Sanctuary of Atotonilco and the Atotonilco Gallery.  It is located in a small community about 14 km outside of San Miguel de Allende.  The church is often called the Sistine Chapel of Mexico because of the murals painted on the ceilings.  In 2008, it became a World Heritage Site.

The church complex is extremely plain with very high walls that give it a fortress appearance. The walls and ceilings of the interior are nearly all covered in murals, sculpture, inscriptions and oil paintings in a style called Mexican folk Baroque. The murals were mainly the work of Antonio Martinez de Pocasangre over a period of 30 years. The complex remains a place of worship and penance.  The word atotonilco is an Aztec-Nahuati meaning “in hot water”.  The area has several thermal springs.

The following are photographic aspects of the church:








We went inside and were allowed to take photos.



Ceiling mural
During Easter, this image is carried from Atotonilco to San Miguel. Candles in hand, thousands make the journey.


Shawn and I gave something to the poor every day. It was strange because most of the poor were elderly women or women with children.  We didn’t see any men begging on the streets.
This sweet dog followed us around.

The taxi driver waited for us.  In fact, he went to eat breakfast while we took photos.  Then he drove us to the Atotonilco Gallery which was just down the road.  We stopped to take a picture of this carved Jesus.

Carved from a tree trunk.

Atotonilco Folk Art Gallery

We pulled up to this very bright red house.  We didn’t know we had to have an appointment.  We called when we saw the sign, and luckily, they let us in.  There was no one other visitors but us, at first.  We met the gentleman who was the owner and collector. His gallery is considered to be the best of Mexican folk art.  He has traveled all over Mexico for 14 years gathering unique folk art – antiques, crafts, pottery.  It is highly regional where each region makes only one type of Mexican craft.  The building, itself , is huge and they even have an annex with more art collections.  It is an amazing array of Mexican and Guatemalan folk art. Here are a few photos.

The owner’s house. Downstairs is the annex.
One of about 4 dogs who lived at the gallery.

There were amazing pieces and of every price range.  I bought myself a jaguar to add to my cat collection. Shawn bought a black mule that whistled and a cup made like a jaguar.  We spent about an hour and a half.  The taxi driver came back to pick us up.

Artisan Market

We arrived back at the hotel and rested in our room until about 3pm.  The mid day sun was very hot and it was nice being in our air-conditioned space.  It is supposed to be the rainy season, but we didn’t see rain the whole week.  It was about 85 degrees in the afternoon and cooled down by 7pm.  We had wi-fi so I was always busy with my blog.  Shawn’s small iPad wouldn’t work for some reason so he borrowed mine most of the time. The cleaning staff came in twice a day to clean and then turn down the bed.  They always left chocolate candy. For the most part, we were enjoying our stay in the Casa No Name.  I did discover that the house was originally built by an archbishop and later owned by the  artist/photographer, I mentioned earlier. She wrote a book called ‘No Name” and thus the owner called the hotel – Casa No Name.

Shawn and I decided to go to the artisan market.  It was a rabbit warren of stalls but a lot of the same things over and over.  I bought two woven bags and that was all. The sun was beating down and we meandered toward the central plaza.  We discovered the city library along the way.  It seemed very informal and kept with the cultural theme. We found the tourist bureau to ask directions to a certain restaurant but even though she explained it was hard to follow by the map.  We saw a young lady and her child in the park and we asked her if she knew the way.  She said she wasn’t from the area but was very friendly and tried to help.  We strolled toward the direction we thought we should go and came upon “Hanks” – a New Orleans style restaurant and oyster bar. We were pretty hungry by that time so went inside.  Shawn ordered popcorn shrimp and I had salmon carpaccio (carpaccios are popular here) That was lunch and dinner combined.  We had an active day planned for Thursday so we were glad to go to retire early.


4 thoughts

  1. I’m really enjoying your photos and blog, Dianne. It’s very interesting. My, but you and Shawn certainly get a lot of walking 🚶 in!


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