Mudejar, the architectural style that emerged in Spain during the Reconquista, is relatively common in Spanish Colonial architecture in America, but it was merely an echo of the contemporary buildings constructed in Spain during the years of the colony. The presence of completely Islamic structures, however, such as the Mosque-type chapels, defy that observation, because the hypostyle plan had not been used in Spain for at least a hundred years. This research compares five chapels built in Mexico during the sixteenth century that follow a hypostyle plan, which resemble mosques in almost every aspect. It also proposes that these Mosque-type churches were a creative solution to accommodate the indigenous population, their patterns of worship and their number during the early years of the colony. These Islamic-inspired designs precede the open-air chapels, which became a common feature in sixteenth century Mexican architecture. An additional transcultural element given by the main users and builders of these chapels enrich the panorama of Mudejar art, mixing Native American religion and culture with an already rich Spanish Mudejar taste.


Arab & Islamic Civilizations Department

Degree Name

MA in Arabic Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2017

First Advisor

Kenney, Ellen

Committee Member 1

O'Kane, Bernard

Committee Member 2

Bacharach, Jere


270 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item


This thesis was made possible thanks to the support grant I received from the department of Graduate Studies at the American University in Cairo, which allowed me to travel to Mexico to experience the buildings here described and acquire much of the reading material I needed.