Believers or Not Believers, Some Tact and Finesse When Traveling Doesn’t Hurt
There are stories of inveterate travelers that tell about majestic architecture pieces all over the world. Egypt’s pyramids, India’s Buddhist temples, The Great Wall of China, and Mexico’s archaeological sites.
However, historical and bold Christian missionaries left their traces in Mexico by leaving magnificent architecture jewels that elapsed with times. This majestic legacy remains spread all over Mexico’s territory.
Even though you may not believe in a particular religion or creedence, there are some things a visitor to Mexico can do to show a little respect to the attendants of religious temples in Mexico.
Five hundred years of religious heritage make believers feel proud of all those worship places that show the encounter of cultures that found in Mexico, a melting pot.
Mexico is home to over 2000 catholic churches, some of them amongst the world’s most beautiful.
By exploring cities in states like Guanajuato, Puebla, Oaxaca, Querétaro, or Michoacán, just to name a few, you’ll inevitably run into some of them on your traveling journeys.
There’s no need to be a believer to visit religious centers to appreciate the art and the techniques that many skillful artisans stamped to them throughout history. They intervened walls, domes, porches, and other spaces that worked as canvasses to depict magnificent artworks.
Therefore, after twenty-five years of trips in my own country, I’ve hoarded some learnings concerning observing some behavioral actions when visiting catholic churches in Mexico.
- Watch for restriction indications at the entrance of every church.
Depending on the religious order that rules the temple and the church’s state location in Mexico, you may or may not take pictures inside the church.
Video is almost restricted unless you obtain a special permit from the church’s administration office.
You’ll see an indication at the entrance of these worship places in most cases, showing you not to take pictures. When taking photos is allowed, you can picture them without operating your camera’s flash.
However, it’s a non-written widespread rule that flash photographing is prohibited at all in every Mexican church.
Why is this? Several temples are a shelter of impressive masterworks like altarpieces, sixteenth, seventeenth, or eighteenth-century paintings, sculptures, and valuable items that don’t get preserved by receiving cameras’ flash shots.
- Don’t interrupt masses or religious celebrations by walking in the church’s central aisles when you see a restrictive indication.
This advice represents another rule you may run into when you decide to go inside a church when a mass takes place.
Most of the time, there’s a sign or indication placed to the church’s main entrance sides inviting visitors and tourists to respect any ceremony inside the temple.
Some churches allow visitors to walk into them by keeping silence and merely staring at the art inside. Some others don’t allow at all the entrance and walking into the churches’ hallways while celebrations are running.
It’s just a matter of watching for any signs hanging from the temple’s gates or beside the hallways that lead from the main access towards the grand altar.
- Ask for permission to do whatever action when required.
As always, manners are welcomed in every situation by asking permission first before carrying out any activity that might be restricted.
For example, visiting “El Pozo de Los Deseos” (The Well of Desires) located just behind the “Cholula” pyramid and in front of the “Parque Cholula” in San Pedro Cholula, state of Puebla, is a pleasant experience.
Right there, you can watch the interior wall paintings and even drink the “Sacred Water” extracted from the well’s bottoms.
I still remember the day I asked first for permission to the site’s devotees guardians to take pictures. In gratitude to that action, they even allowed me to go upstairs to the hill and take pictures from the top of the same.
The access to this place is usually forbidden to ordinary visitors. Hence, you can see here an example of how some manners may return miracles.
- Appropriate clothing for churches doesn’t include swimsuits and bikini tops.
There’s no need for me at all to include here too many explanations for this fact.
With very few exceptions of churches located in some vacation spots like Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Los Cabos, or Puerto Vallarta, the entrance with light clothing is always forbidden.
I mean, bathing suits or women’s top will encounter harsh resistance from believers.
So, don’t forget to watch first the way locals dress to go inside, and then after, you can either choose to go and admire the interiors. This tactic will avoid you from experiencing an awkward and embarrassing moment.
- Shut down your cell phone.
As you can see in the picture below from “La Crucecita” village in the “Bahías de Huatulco” surroundings, Oaxaca state, this is absolutely clear in almost every church in Mexico.
“Should God be going to call you, he isn’t going to do so by a cell phone.”
Your cell phone’s sounds must be shut off or in airplane mode. It will save you from ugly looks and scowls from believers.
I’m afraid saints and virgins don’t like to watch their church’s visitors send whatsapps or tweets while the priest is “summoning” the holy spirit.
I guess they don’t have those gadgets yet up there.
- Don’t use the lobby’s monumental crosses and sculpture’s bases as stands for selfies.
Indeed, some of the art pieces you can admire at churches are real masterwork pieces.
As a devotional act from their believers, some of these artworks occupy their base on bedrocks that, in some cases, some reckless people use them as stands to get the ideal selfie.
For instance, in the main lobby of the “Santuario de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios” in the magic village of San Pedro Cholula, state of Puebla, there’s a monumental standing rock cross receiving visitors.
In this way, I’ve observed some times in the past some sanctuary’s acolytes warn those frantic travelers not to stand up there when they go that extra step to take that memorable “I was here” selfie.
I think you may recognize some of these convenience rules that may indeed apply to religious buildings at your own places of origin.
Once again, the Magno finesse response from you to this matter goes once again, as it follows. When approaching a religious temple in Mexico, I recommend watching local dressing codes and indications at the churches’ entrance.
As I previously mentioned, they are usually located at the church’s wooden doors, at the main entrance’s sides, or even outside the same one.
Those indications may be the typical universal graphic symbols banning pictures or the camera flash.
Not to forget to mention, please pay attention to your behavior inside the site.
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