After decades underwater, a 19th-century church has emerged from the waters of a central Mexican lake, the legacy of the region’s recent drought.

Moving away from the tourist resorts and the coast to the center of Mexico, we find Guanajuato, whose name derives from the Purepecha, “Quanax Huata,” which means “hill of the frogs.” It is one of the country’s colonial gems that has been proclaimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Virgen de los Dolores has been submerged underwater since 1979. (Turismo Municipal de Irapuato Facebook)

The Purisima Dam buried the colonial village of El Zangarro along with the Church of the Virgin of Dolores in 1979.

Due to this year’s drought, a strange occurrence happened in the La Purisima dam: The surviving church has risen to the surface, free from water and fish to bask in the sunlight, as the only survivor of a town that was flooded more than forty years ago.

Virgen de los Dolores has been submerged underwater since 1979. (Turismo Municipal de Irapuato Facebook)

The Catholic complex, which mixes neoclassical and baroque styles, was the heart of the Zangarro culture, which had been important since viceregal times because it housed civil registry offices and the vicarage of the Villa Real de Mina de Guanajuato.

Dulce Vazquez, the curator of the local municipal archives, said: “Oral history tells us that it was very difficult for them to leave the place, not just because of the buildings, but because of the sense of belonging to the place.”

Virgen de los Dolores has been submerged underwater since 1979. (Turismo Municipal de Irapuato Facebook)

The historic construct has been brought back into the light due to the current drought that has afflicted Guanajuato and the surrounding area.