Place of Hot Waters- Atotonilco, Guanajuato, Mexico by Erica Soto
Approximately six miles from San Miguel de Allende we stop in the village of Atotonilco, which means “place of hot waters.” Atotonilco has one of the most revered sacred churches in Mexico. The sanctuary of Atotonilco is a mysterious church used for pertinence. It also has an important part in history as the route for independence and where the banner of the Virgin Mary was ripped from the sanctuary wall by Father Hidalgo and used as a representation of freedom from the Spaniards.
When we step out off the car we immediately notice the silence of this village. We stop in front of the Sanctuary of Atotonilco. From the outside it is a very simple church with high, plain, white walls. But as you get closer and take a good look, encrypted are various faint murals. You will have to look very closely to be able to depict them. The façade murals were noticed after the sanctuary having been neglected for centuries was named and UNESCO World Heritage Site and funds were available for restoration. When the outside walls of the sanctuary were being prepped for painting one of the workers realized that these murals were hidden behind the dust of the sanctuary walls. The sanctuary entrance is the original 1740 carved wooden doors and lock. The wearing down of the entrance step is also noticeable.
Once inside the sanctuary it was entirely an opposite sight from the outside. There are huge carved wooden images of mythical creatures, bleeding penitents, suffering saints and frescos. One of the most notable and important figure is of a bleeding Jesus of Nazareth. This same figure is used for pilgrimage during holy week procession from the village of Atotonilco to San Miguel de Allende.
After the intense visit of the sanctuary, we stopped to have a relaxing lunch at the banks of Rio Laja surrounded by mesquite trees and cacti. From here, we are only 10 minutes away from San Miguel de Allende!
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