The Cupola: Cup of What?

“Sorry, I said Cupola”, is my most frequent response.  Although this architectural addition is common in many of the worlds largest churches and our public buildings in North America, it is not something many Canadians or Americans understand when looking at property here in the Vallarta region.

These circular additions to an existing roofline have a variety of purposes but are used in many cases to allow the warm air of our tropical climate to move more freely and keep the air inside our homes, muy fresca.  However, the real history of these goes back to the Greeks who used them to both allow homes to breath more easily as well as installing a lookout to watch for less than welcome visitors.  Over the centuries this upside down cup design took on new significance as they became highly decorative and symbolic of the homeowners wealth.

Here in Vallarta and surrounding areas, you can see many examples of cupolas on our local churches, but some of the most interesting of these are found on top of small hotels or large private homes.  If you stop into Casa Karma, pause for a minute before you head to the oceanfront bar and look at the intricate tile work on the cupola there.  Local artists are often hired to update the designs with intricate tile work, not only preserving these cupola’s but turning them into art pieces!

From the inside, it is worth tilting your head to have a good glance up at the intricate brickwork used in the construction.  The stunning artisan work that goes intocupolas is something I have witnessed personally, and I often say that we are fortunate to be able to live in a city with so many skilled tradespeople.  To build with the same quality and design in most of North America people would have to fly in someone who is capable of this type of construction.

Take some time out on your next visit to our amazing city to look up, and take in a bit of our local architecture.   There are several walking tours available, or if you so chose just grab a cup of coffee and wander the streets of gringo gulch, and the romantic zone and check out many often overlooked cupola’s dotting our cities skyline.

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Until next time enjoy the final days of our rainy season!

James Nash
A believer that a simple, flavorful meal shared with friends is one of our life's true joys, a local resident of Vallarta, James (aka Jimmy) shares his knowledge and passion for the culinary arts, local architecture and real estate.