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The Church of Santa Prisca

Taxco, Mexico

The Church of Santa Prisca in Taxco, Mexico, is a monument of the Spanish Colonial school, which is not nearly so well known as its character and quality warrant. Santa Prisca, with its twin towers of pink sandstone and its star-studded dome, is an exemplar of the Rococo Churrigueresque style, a highly decorated Mexican outgrowth of the Spanish Baroque.

And highly decorated it is. The flat facades of the twin towers feature alternating round and quatrefoil windows and are relatively plain. However, they frame an elaborately carved facade with a central Baptism of Christ, surrounded by twisted columns, prophets, saints, angels, shells, flowers, a clock, and, at the top, the Assumption of the Virgin. From there, the carving shifts to the towers and continues up to dominate the skyline of the town of Taxco. The church is relatively narrow due to the site constraints of the hilly town, which enhances the soaring silhouette of the spires.

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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.

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