Thursday, June 23, 2011

Santo Domingo de Guzmán

The Church and former monastery of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, were founded by the Dominican Order. Construction begun in the mid 16th century continued for over 200 years. The monastery was active from 1608 to 1857. During the revolutionary wars the military occupied the buildings. The church returned to religious use in 1938. In 1972 the monastery became a regional museum, and in 1993 restoration began which completed in 1999. It is an exceptional example of conservation architecture by Juan Urquiaga. The church has also been fully restored. Its highly decorated interior includes use of more than 60,000 sheets of 23.5-karat gold leaf. The main facade of the temple, oriented to the west, is constructed of local quarry stone. The temple is one of the most outstanding examples of Mexican baroque.

The rooms that formerly constituted the monastery now house the Cultural Centre of Oaxaca, which was founded with the help of Oaxacan-born artist Francisco Toledo. This museum includes an important collection of pre-Columbian artefacts, among them the contents of Tomb 7 from the nearby Zapotec site of Monte Albán. The former monastery garden is now an Ethnobotanical Garden, containing a large collection of plants native to the region.

On the main floor of the ex-convent has gallery space which at various times has hosted a wide range of exhibits from contemporary art to Mexican history. The courtyard hosts concerts and other cultural functions. For a closer look please view my photo gallery.

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