For centuries prior to the arrival of the Spanish, Tlaxcalans had been fierce enemies of the Aztecs. During the Conquest, they became important allies of Hernán Cortéz and his Conquistadores. As a result, the Tlaxcalans were able to maintain their autonomy for a considerable portion of the colonial era. This early alliance enabled Spanish friars to evangelize and conduct mass baptisms here even before the final defeat of the Aztecs in 1521. As a result, some of the churches and other colonial-era structures in the city of Tlaxcala are among the oldest in Mexico. In this first posting of my series, we'll start with Plaza de la Constitución, which is surrounded by many beautifully restored colonial-era buildings.
Plaza de la Constitución
gift to the city from Spain's King Philip IV in 1646. The plaza itself was laid out in 1524, as the first step to building the town. The Aztecs had been defeated only two years previously, making this one of the first Spanish plazas in the continental Americas. The measurements of the plaza follow the standard set for plazas in medieval Spain. The original name of the square was Plaza de Armas (Plaza of Guns, i.e. the parade ground). In 1813, the name was changed to Plaza de la Constitución in honor of the Constitution of Cadiz, a document drawn up by Spanish reformers as part of their resistance to the French occupation of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. For a Google map of the Plaza and surrounding area, click here.
Wild Flowers and Plants of Central Mexico).
Portales de Hidalgo
build nine stores along this side of the plaza. The move was inspired by Corregidor (chief magistrate) Don Diego Ramirez. In 1550, the completed stores were rented to merchants so that they could sell the wares they imported from Spain and the Philippines. The city council then used the income from the rentals to pay city government workers.
Portal de Parian, but it was changed after 1821 to honor Father Miguel Hidalgo, hero of the War of Independence.
dates to 1545, but has been modified numerous times since then. Originally it was the local headquarters of the Spanish colonial government. The original building had three sections. On the west end (left side) was the alhóndiga, a public granary. The center section was occupied by the Casas de Consistorial (council hall and mayor's office). The east end (right side) consisted of apartments set aside for the Viceroy when he passed through the area. Today, the walls of the east end are filled with stunning murals detailing the history of Tlaxcala from Paleolithic times to the modern day. I will do a separate posting on the murals later in this series.
Plateresque means "in the manner of a silversmith". The style appeared in 15th century Spain during the late Gothic and early Renaissance periods. The three upper arches also show some Moorish influence.
Parroquia San José
Capilla Real de Indias
a system of state-controlled forced labor of native people to construct it. Church and civil authorities of the colonial society were apparently oblivious to the irony, given the purpose of the structure.
Spanish King Carlos III in 1770. In honor of his decree, the town council placed a life-sized stone statue of King Carlos in the atrium. It was adorned with military insignia, although Carlos had little or no military experience, seldom wore uniforms, and could barely be persuaded to witness a military review. However, he was a reformer who was strongly influenced by the Enlightenment. Historians view King Carlos III as one of the best European rulers of his era. His statue now resides in Tlaxcala's Regional Museum.
fire destroyed the nave. Much of the rest of the church collapsed in a later earthquake. The ruins were abandoned until 1984, when the structure was restored, but for another purpose.
Benito Juarez was the Chief Justice of the Mexican Supreme Court during the mid-19th century. The upper quote means "The nation comes first" while the lower says "Peace is respect for the rights of others." Juarez, a full-blooded Zapotec Indian, is one of the most honored and respected figures in Mexico's history. It would be another 150 years before the US elected a person of color as president.
Oficina de Turismo
Reform War (1858-1860), the conservatives urged France to invade Mexico and install a monarchy. As President, Juarez led the successful resistance to the French occupation (1862-1867). Abraham Lincoln and Juarez, who were contemporaries, admired and respected each other greatly.
This concludes Part 1 of my Tlaxcala series. I hope you have enjoyed it and, if so, please leave any thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. If you leave a question in the Comments section, PLEASE leave your email address so that I can respond.
Hasta luego, Jim