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San José del Altillo Chapel

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The San José del Altillo Chapel is among the most celebrated of Modernist Churches in Mexico City. The 1958 structure is a remarkable collaboration between architects Félix Candela, Enrique de la Mora, and Fernando López Carmona. Similar collaborations in these pages include the San Antonio de las Huertas Temple and the Pañuelito chapel. The most famous of all is perhaps the Church of Santa Cruz de la Aviación in San Luis Potosi.

The Chapel is also known as the Capilla de Soledad, for the Virgin of Solitude to whom it’s dedicated. More commonly though, it bears the name of the old hacienda of San José del Altillo. The final heir of the hacienda donated the land in the early 20th century. The Missionaries of the Holy Spirit then built the chapel designed by de la Mora. Candela here did the structural calculations with support from López Carmona.

De la Mora’s original design called for transparent windows with views of the garden. Parishioners, though, found it distracting and invited one Kitzia Hofmann to design the stained glass depiction of the Holy Spirit. These are among the chapel’s most striking features. The work of her husband, the German artist Herbert Hofmann, is in the sculpture of Our Lady of Solitude, also in the chapel. Together, all these elements, both architectural and artistic, led the National Fine Arts Institute (INBAL) to catalogue the Chapel among the list of protected artistic heritage sites. That gives the San José del Altillo Chapel the highest level of institutional protection within Mexico City.

Sources cited on this page:
Ivan San Martín Córdova, 2016, Estructura, abstracción y sacralidad,
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México


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