Santo Domingo de Guzman Church and Convent – Uayma, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Santo Domingo de Guzman Church and Convent

Uayma, Mexico

This one-of-a-kind convent boasts a kaleidoscopic exterior of stars and double-headed eagles. 


The first record of this site being used by the Spanish dates back to 1579, when it served as a site for the evangelization of the indigenous Maya peoples. It’s believed that the small temple was built from stones removed from Maya buildings. The currently-standing edifications were completed in 1646. At some point, the colorful exterior was painted over and the church was converted to a Dominican convent.

The convent was burned during the 19th-century Yucatán Caste War and fell into neglect for hundreds of years. Modern renovations concluded in 2005 and revealed the temple’s original brilliant decorations. Blue stars represent the original worship of Mary, red represents the blood of Christ, and a double-headed eagle represents the Hapsburgs rulers of Spain. The architectural term for these decorations is “ajaracas” and they are a common element of Spanish Colonial architecture in Central Mexico. They can be found in both the external and internal walls of the church.

Looking closely at the church’s facade, you can see embedded stones that feature typical Mayan pattern carvings under the two-headed eagle, proof of the origin of its construction materials. Today the church sits in the eastern edge of the plaza of the sleepy Mayan town of Uayma, a 20-minute drive from the colonial town of Valladolid.

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Entrance is free and open to the public while mass is not in session.

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