Temple and former convent of Santo Domingo de Guzman, Oaxaca City

The Order of the Preacher brothers or Dominics was founded by Domingo de Guzmán in 1216, as from the beginings of Tomas de Aquino, who brought about a new way of thinking and explaining theology. In the continent of America, the Dominican mission is a direct heritage of the reform of the Order of the 14th century which was seeking to return to the primitive observance, stating that the evangelization and activity of preachers should alternate with life in the cloister.

The Dominican Order reached Oaxaca after the Franciscans, who have abandoned the southeastern area of the Mixteca due to the aridness and lack of communication. It was brother Domingo de Betanzos who promoted the Dominican establishment in the then recently Antequera, upon sending brother Gonzalo Lucero and brother Bernardino de Tapia to the mission in 1528, who were received at San Juan de Dios, the first temple to be founded in the city. The construction of the temple began in 1570 after the concession of twenty plots of land to the north of the city by order of the town parish in 1550. Both Mexican and Spanish masons participated in the construction: Toribio de Alcaraz, brother Hernando Cavarcos and Justo Alcantara.

Temple and convent of Santo Domingo de Guzman multimedia galleries, click to watch.

  • Santo Domingo de Guzman :: . The construction of the temple of Santo Domingo began in 1570 after the concession of twenty plots of land to the north of the city by order of the town parish in 1550

Eventhough the town parish did its utmost to revoke the donation for not having completed the construction within the established term of twenty years, the work was prolonged for a further thirty years.

In 1612 the first major altarpiece was put in place, one year prior the termination of the cloister. In 1659, a local master took charge of the plastework and guildwork of the tunnel vault and the choir stall in the main body of the temple.

In 1690 the towers were in place, however they were to be reconstructed two years later due to their destruction by an earthquake. An entire century was recquired in order to terminate the work.

During the 17th century this order brought with it a flourishing of academic studies; It opened a general studio and turned the convent into workshops where the arts and trade were taught to the indigenous people.
The garden of Santo Domingo was the first botanical garden in the continent and the acclimatation center of European plants which were later naturalized over all central America, as well as nursery of tropical plants which were passed onto Spain.

In August of 1676 an earthquake was registered which almost entirely left the convent in ruins, to such an extent that it was needed to rebuild it. Around the second half of the 18th century the congregation fell considerably as a consequence of the secularization of the parishioners.
The convent suffered distinct military occupations and served as a fortress and hospital throughout the 19th century.

In 1859, the publication of the Laws of Reform and the secularization of religious Orders suppresed the temple and the Dominican house. It was converted into barracks from 1832 up until the end of the century, during which time incalculable damages were suffered by the altarpieces, stalls, and structure; elements which were finally completed lost. The temple remained closed from 1860 to 1901, when it was handed over to bishop Gillow.

Restoration work began, erecting new altars and writing the final page of the history book in the choir pit.
The Order once again finally returned to administer the parish in 1933 and on March 30th, 1938 the temple was declared a historical monument.
During the 90's the ex-convent underwent an important change and currently it accomodates the Cultural Center of Santo Dmingo de Guzman.

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