Cuilapam de Guerrero is the home of an old convent with one peculiar feature, which has no roof! Ex Convento de Cuilapam is located in the small town of Cuilapam de Guerrero about 30 minutes from the city of Oaxaca.
The Dominican temple and the ex-convent of Cuilapam de Guerrero seem, in the distance, a fortress dominating the valley in which it is located. They were built on a small hill with spectacular views.
The wide walls of green quarry and river stones quietly keep much of the history of the meeting of different cultures: the Spanish, the Mixteca and the Zapotec. There are wall paintings, mostly in black and white, on the interior walls of the ex-convent. There are also paintings of cures on the second floor.
The Ex Convento de Cuilapam is located on a large, peaceful ground, on the main road that crosses Cuilapam, and it is possible to walk to the roof and overlook the mountains and land. The current church of the former convent of Cuilapam is relatively small, but the section of the convent and the part of the roofless open chapel of the complex are reasonably large. It is possible to walk through the cloisters of Cuilapam at no cost, where there is a series of frescoes dating from the sixteenth century.
Of particular interest is the statue of the revolutionary leader of Mexican independence and ex President of Mexico, General Vicente Guerrero, commemorating the place where he was shot to death by a firing squad. Vicente Guerrero was imprisoned in the cloisters of Cuilapam for a time before being executed on Valentine’s Day in 1831. There is an oil painting of him in the chapter house of the cloisters.
The convent’s open-air chapel was common when the Spanish brought religion to the natives who were used to their religious celebrations being outdoors. The design was to encourage the natives to attend the new churches during the American Evangelization.
The grounds are free to walk, as well as the open portion of the ex convent, however there is a side entrance to the museum that allows you to walk the halls of the completed parts of the ex convent. There you will have access to the roof and the area where General Vicente Guerrero was held before his execution. The entry fee is well worth the cost at $45 pesos ( just a couple of dollars).