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The Church of Santiago Apóstol Tulyehualco is the original parish church of Santiago Tulyehualco. Today, the older building is referred to as the chapel of the much newer building. That one is re-dedicated to Nuestra Señora de San Juan de los Lagos. (More on Our Lady of Saint John of the Lakes.) The two churches share the center of town with the local government buildings, and the town plaza, Parque Tulyehualco, to the east. The church atrium to the west which puts the rear of the church, somewhat unusally, over the modern civic plaza.
The Chapel of Santiago Apóstol dates from 1607. It’s a remarkable old structure with three altars, one dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary from the 17th century. The chapel also contains important sculptures of the Immaculate Conception, San Rafael, San Miguel and the Apostle Santiago. There’s also an altar of the Nazarene that contains nine oil paintings representing the Passion of Christ.
The newer church, often referred to simply as San Juan de los Lagos, was built in 1963. The original atrial wall was destroyed in the same decade. But the older chapel was left in a state of neglect. In 1996, an inspection showed that Santiago Apóstol had damaged walls, vaults and domes. The weight of the newer adjoining church had caused it and the 2017 earthquake didn’t help. In 2021, some repairs were made and today both structures are in use by the parish.
The Church of Santiago Apóstol Tulyehualco was historically the center of the town. Like most communities in the area, this one was evangelized by Franciscans early in the 16th century. With a historical collection of art not entirely original but thought provoking nonetheless, it’s a complex and curious center to a town of equally robust character.