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Why are Spanish Courtyards Inside? And Other Facts about Mexico’s Architecture

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins on Friday, May 4th, 2018 at 11:57am.

As we delve further into Cinco de Mayo to gain a better understanding - remember, it isn’t their St Patrick’s Day, nor is it Mexico’s Independence Day - it’s interesting to look at Mexican architecture, and how it’s been affected by outside forces through the years. If The Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 had gone another way, we may have found more French influence in their architectural history.

  • If you look closely at the main cities in Mexico, you can understand their history through the Spanish Colonial derivatives. Seriously. Try it.

  • The Mayans’ taste in architecture brought many wondrous shapes and structures into the world around 100 AD, namely: Teotihuacan (the "Place of the Gods"), where the Great Pyramid of Cholula, the Pyramid of the Sun, and the Pyramid of the Moon were built.

  • Mexican architecture has also been heavily influenced by the artists of different periods and European influences as they were colonized. One grand example of these sensibilities coming together is the Ciudad Universitaria. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, for its “ingenius example of urban architectural design,” heavily influenced by David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Chávez Morado and Francisco Eppens.

  • Mexico has been rebranding its country in recent years through a campaign called MeMo, or “Mexico’s Moment.” This movement builds upon the more recent Mexican masters in architecture by synthesizing its rich cultural history with new philosophies, resulting in some gorgeous works.

  • The inner courtyard so long associated with Mexico is a good example of style within function. Through invasions and brutal times, a sturdy outer wall was necessary for security. If they pushed their buildings’ exteriors out, designers could include an open air courtyard in the middle of the property, a design element that continues today.


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