Tierra Adentro is located outside of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, near the village of Atotonilco.
The house Designed by David Howell, John Houshmand's retreat is an elemental experience. Air, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal play host to architectural design, and theres all combine to soothe senses embattled by technology. The house is and intensely serene reinvention of traditional Mexican hacienda architecture, borne out of Middle Eastern courtyard via Spain.
Located seven miles northeast of the artist town of San Miguel de Allende is the small but much venerated pilgrimage church of Atotonilco. In the indigenous language of the region, Atotonilco (pronounced ah-toe-toe-NEAL-co) means 'Place of the Hot Waters,' and the site actually began as a hacienda with a spring, from which curative waters still bubble forth.
The church is sometimes referred to as the "Sistine Chapel of the Americas" and almost every square inch of the walls and ceilings inside the Sanctuary is covered with fresco paintings in a riotous outpouring of Mexican folk art. The murals also portray angels, archangels, saints, and demons amidst decorations of fanciful flowers and fruits.
Some of the murals are among the most gruesome and somber paintings in the world... darkly painted, darkly lit. In addition to these devotional murals, the church contains a treasury of sculptures, also dating from the late 1700's. Because of neglect and environmental degradation over the centuries, murals and sculptures are in extremely fragile condition. Visitors, anxious to carry away souvenirs, have contributed to the deteriorations of the paintings by scaping the walls.
Today the Sanctuary of Atotonilco retains its special place in the religious life of central Mexico. Thousands of Christians come each year to participate in religious exercises... Local history recounts that from 1880 to the present times as many as 100,000 people a year have made pilgrimages to the shrine.
Atotonilco's small population is expanded greatly when these retreats are held. Approximately thirty weeks a year 5,000 to 10,000 pilgrims converge on the shrine from all parts of Mexico. The usually deserted, dusty main street of the village is filled with worshippers browsing among the stalls of vendors selling religious articles and clothing, pottery and food. The plaza is filled with the sounds and smells of fiesta. Traditional dances are also held at the shrine on the third Sunday of July.
The World Monuments Fund recently named this historic and artistically important pilgrimage church to its list of "100 most endangered monuments." With a grant from American Express and the State of Guanajuato in 1996 a Mexican non-profit organization began work on the restorations of the Chapel of the Virgin of the Rosary. With these efforts, the fabric of the church and its murals have been stabilized.