There are so many things one could say about the Capilla del Rosario in the Santo Domingo Church, that this post could be the longest in history. I could write lines and lines going thorough all the figures, saints, fruits, details, paintings and symbols on the walls. I could try to described the exact feeling I get every time I go into the Chapel and the feeling once I’m out. The shape of the baldachin-like cypress, the face of the virgin, the way the light seems to bathe the room, or the ever changing color of the altar.
But the truth is the words to describe all this are hard to find and I´m afraid they all could sound a little cliche, because the best adjectives to describe this site are “unique”, “unlivable” and “exquisite”. Only those words can do justice to the Capilla del Rosario. It’s pretty clear why this chapel has been considered, for centuries, the Colonial Baroque Jewel of Mexico.
The church housing the chapel is not as splendid, though it’s beautiful too. The fact is it’s not fair to compare them, but one can’t helping, having to walk through the church to enter the chapel. The beauty of the main altar of the Santo Domingo Church is soon minimized after giving a first glance to the Capilla del Rosario. But why does a church, not different from others in Mexico, has this jewel in it.
The Santo Domingo Church was built between 1571 and 1611, and while the quarry facade is grey and dark, the inside is more ornamented, with gilded stucco work and a 1688 main altar created by Pedro Maldonado. In 1650 Fray Juan de Cuenca, a devout of Our Lady of the Rosary, envisioned a chapel dedicated to the virgin with the aim of teaching the rosary and pass to the locals his devotion. To achieve this, the chapel had to be the greatest thing anybody had seen, and he did so. As soon as it was finished in 1690 it was considered the Eighth Wonder of the World. Its dazzling use of gilded stucco and onyx stonework was never before seen, and it created a commotion in the New Spain territories.
Still today, the chapel is something just incredible, and I’m not using this term lightly, the strongly ornamented but yet elegant and tidy space is small, but so rich that you could be there for hours, admiring all that’s surrounding you, and still would have the feeling of not have seen but only a small part of it.
The Capilla del Rosario is a must-see site in Puebla, and be sure to have enough time to enjoy it. It is open from 7:30 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00 everyday. If you happen to go while a mass is being celebrated on the Church, just be quiet and go to the aisle on your left hand side to get to the chapel without interrupting the congregation.