Visited: December 22, 2010
Site Type: Cultural
Background and Opinion:
Built in the later 18th century, Hospicio Cabañas was one of the first hospices in the world to provide care for orphans, the mentally ill, and the physically disabled. At a time when many governments around the world simply tossed their less fortunate aside to fend for themselves, Guadalajara decided to do things differently. This great leap forward in social welfare is one of the main reasons for the UNESCO World Heritage nod. The second reason lies in the main chamber where Jose Orozco, considered to be one of the grand masters of Mexican art, painted some of the most beautiful murals in the world. The examples here, along with his other murals are credited as having sparked an artistic renaissance in the country, inspiring artists across the country.
What I found most fascinating is Orozco’s clever use of curved surfaces to make great use of perspective. Depending on where you stand, the paintings look as if something different is happening. One example is his “Man of Fire” on the central dome. Stand in one side of the room, and is looks like the man is walking away from you and into the abyss. More across the room and look up again to see the same man now coming at you instead of away.
1) Completeness and Originality (10 out of 15): Can’t complain about the condition, but it is not exactly used for the same purpose anymore.
2) Extensiveness of the Site (0 out of 15): It is not very large and you will be done in about an hour, if that.
3) Cultural Significance (2 out of 25): Lots of local significance as it is a proud point of Guadalajara’s history.
4) Personal Impact (1 out of 15): I’d be lying if I said it blew me away. It was a pretty building and the art was nice, but I think someone who is into art would appreciate it more.
5) Logistics (2 out of 10): It is easy enough to find, but seeing how small it is, I don’t see why there is a charge at all.
6) Uniqueness (15 out of 20): This is a truly unique World Heritage Site and a testament to how creative UNESCO can be.
Combined Score: 30/100
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