La Plaza Mejorada
Arco de los Dragones, is an arch similar to the one already seen in Part 11 of this series. The arches were built by General Juan José de la Bárcenas in 1690 as a way of creating a separation between the neighborhoods around the Plaza Grande, occupied by the colonial elite, and the surrounding Maya and mestizo barrios. The word dragones doesn't refer to creatures like the alebrije shown in the first photo of this posting. It is instead the Spanish term for heavy cavalry ("dragoons" in English) used by armies from the 16th through the early 20th Centuries. The term originated with the the French firearm called a "dragon" that was carried by mounted troops. The arch stands next to the old cuartel, or barracks used by those dragones.