You Are the Chapel; the Others Are Just Churches
By Karen Ocampo
Religious architecture can enchant us and quicken our spirits. According to INEGI, Guanajuato is the state with the largest Catholic population throughout the country, and although we are not the state with the most churches in Mexico (it is Puebla), we are not far behind. Here we will present some structures that are not usually pointed out, but they can take your breath away. These are chapels.
A chapel is a church located within parish boundaries, but not the main building, hence the Mexican phrase Tú eres la iglesia, las otras son solo capillitas. You are the church; the others are just little chapels. Despite not being the most popular places, renowned for charm and beauty, there are some chapels nearby that you shouldn’t miss:
Montecillo de Nieto Chapel
This chapel is approximately a 20 minute drive from San Miguel de Allende. When you walk into the heart of this chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, you will be surprised as its interior is full of sacred art perfectly preserved on painted walls.
San Isidro Labrador Chapel
Most of the people in this rural community are farmers, and this chapel is dedicated to the patron saint of farmers. Here there is another chapel dedicated to the three kings. It has an image of Christ on a cross of mirrors and words recorded about these three characters.
Chapel of Atotonilco
This place has earned the nickname “the Mexican Sistine Chapel,” but there is no comparison. Unique in its style, it is a baroque chapel from the eighteenth century that bears the story of one of the scenarios of the fight for Mexican independence. The decoration of the ceilings and walls that you see upon entering is a visual magnet.
You can do this tour by car, bike, or horseback, but the chapels are not always open. Just stop in at the San Miguel tourist office and request the services of a guide who can accompany you.