2010 World Monuments Watch
In the isolated, arid region of southern Mexico, the charming Templo de San Felipe Tindaco rests atop a small plateau overlooking rolling hills. Little is known, however, about its origins. In 1571, the Parish of Natividad Chalcatongo was established and oversaw eight ranches, which were consolidated into two locations in 1603. In the 18th century, seven of these ranches were restored as villages in the surrounding region, among them San Felipe Tindaco. Construction on the church likely began in the late 18th or early 19th century. Designed in the manner of a Latin cross, San Felipe Tindaco was constructed with many of the regular features adopted by 18th and 19th century churches in the region. A choir loft, nave, transept, apse, sacristy, and rectory lie within the church’s recessed stone façade, following the architectural styles of similar baroque Dominican structures in the region. Inside, light blue and red decorations cover the walls surrounding the golden altar, immersed in natural light pouring in from high windows. Like the nearby Templo de San Bartolo Soyaltepec, the church is a focal point of the community and an important element in its religious and cultural life. Limited resources constrain preservation and maintenance efforts. The roof and arches are in poor condition, and the walls remain in a weakened state, further threatened by the church’s location in a seismic zone.