You zig here, zag there on your way up to the massive convento that sits atop a former Mayan pyramid in Izamal, in Mexico’s Yucatán, observed by a lone sentinel at the gate.
The walk up Izamal’s ancient Convento San Antonio de Padua seems imposing, because once you’re on top of the once-grand pyramid, you’re nearly on top of the world. And it’s an oddly all-yellow world.
Built after Spain’s 16th-century conquest of Yucatán by Franciscans who were anxious to impose Catholicism upon pagans, the monastery that was erected with Mayan labor, using stones from the pyramid they dismantled, is now painted the same egg yolk yellow that the entire city of Izamal is painted—giving it the name, “The Yellow City.”
You push past one of many wrought iron gates towards a rich dark red door that beckons you to step back in time.
Look down to see two women wearing traditional Mayan dresses passing by the massive convento, walking along the same path that once led to the great pyramid built to honor the Maya Sun God, Kinich Kak Mo.
From within every arch, the stained glass Madonna of Izamal follows you around the convento’s huge plaza, glittering and vibrant under the hot Yucatán sun, as if praying for Bishop Diego de Landa’s soul—guilty of burning every ancient Mayan script in 1562.
Above it all, the young woman leans patiently along a white-trimmed balustrade, like a modern madonna whose intent is benevolent but whose gaze is watchful.
And somewhere back in time, the time has stopped on the tower clock. ♣
Read more about The Yellow City of Izamal here, about the Convento’s history under the Franciscans here, and see more photographs from my Mission Mexico gallery here. To purchase any of these prints, email me.