Saint Augustine (San Agustín), Acolman, Mexico, 16th Century
The Franciscans founded a monastery on this site in the late 1520s, using Indian labor and stones from the pre-Columbian temple of Quetzalcoatl. The cloister and open chapel still remain; the posa chapels were destroyed in a flood.
In 1539 the Augustinian Order took control of the convento. They built a second cloister and the church (1540-1560). The church facade is among the earliest surviving examples of plateresque architecture in Mexico (completed 1560). In this elegant facade, sophisticated statues of St. Peter and St. Paul share their space with an ancient Aztec emblem glyph representing the place name for the site (the arm of the first man crowned by water glyphs and seashells). The double, paneled arch of the portal displays fruits and vegetables, bread and fish interspersed with angels.
Relief carvings decorate the spandrels between the arches of the cloister, and the capitals of the supporting columns are topped with what look like Aztec feathers. Late 16th century frescos adorn the cloister walks.