The delicate frescoes of Cuitzeo

Cuitzeo del Porvenir

Faith and history

In 1550, a priest blessed and laid the first stone of what is probably one of the most beautiful monastery complexes in Mexico, the Former Convent of Santa María Magdalena in the Pueblo Mágico de Cuitzeo, which became a mission town and is now part of the Don Vasco Route. The Augustinian monastery was dedicated to dedicated to Mary Magdalene, the symbol of conversion and the guardian of Christ’s heart. It now houses the Estampa Museum, with a fascinating archaeological collection on Chupícuaro Culture.

On the façade, the first frescoes of the beautiful pilgrims’ portal give an idea of what awaits the traveler inside the building. The complex is Plateresque with Gothic details such as the ribs of the vaults supporting the marvelous two-story cloisters.

The visit offers an intimate look at convent life and it does not take much to imagine the soundless comings and goings of the monks through the refectory, kitchen, library and cells. One of the hidden gems is the ambulatory leading into the church’s magnificent choir stalls, carved in the 16th century, with a 17th century organ. The chapter hall is probably the highlight of the entire complex.

The room, whose walls are painted with frescoes with a profusion of scenes, floral borders and motifs yet without aesthetic excesses, invites calm reflection. From above, St. Thomas reminds us: Tantum ergo Sacraméntum, venerémur cérnui: et antíquum documentum novo cedat rítui; præstet fides suppleméntum sénsuum deféctui (Let us bow down in worship to the Great Sacrament and let the old figure give way to the new rite, and faith replace the incapacity of the senses).

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We recommend

  • Wander through the large square dominated by the former monastery, visit the Hospitalito and the Sanctuary of Guadalupe, buy craftwork made from reeds, and try the eggnog gelatin.
  • Try some frogs’ legs or fried silversides in a lake view restaurant such as La Cabaña del Lago.
  • Look for Mary Magdalene holding an oil vessel, in a niche in the facade. In the stained glass window of the façade, she is shown washing Jesus' feet. Inside the monastery, she is shown at the feet of the crucified Christ, praying in a cave, and as the guardian of the Sacred Heart.

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Alonso de la Veracruz s/n, Col. Centro. 58840 Cuitzeo del Porvenir, Cuitzeo

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