Churches, Cathedrals and Convents in Oaxaca
The architecture of the churches, cathedral, convents and monasteries in Oaxaca is a collision between pre-Hispanic influences and the ideas of the Spanish and the Dominicans. The earliest churches in Oaxaca date from the sixteenth century and there are some quite stark contrasts in style, some designs are very elaborate others very subdued and sombre. Two of the most visited are Oaxaca Cathedral and Santo Domingo Church, both of which are located in the center of Oaxaca City.
Santo Domingo Church is by far the most spectacular church in Oaxaca, even more so than the Cathedral and is located in the centre of Oaxaca City. The Santo Domingo church is an important building in Oaxaca because not only is it the biggest church in the City but also it is home to the Santo Domingo Cultural Centre (Centro Cultural Santo Domingo de Guzmán), and Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden. This stunning church is a must see if you are visiting Oaxaca City.
Find out more about Santo Domingo de Guzmán Church
The Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude or La Soledad as it is commonly referred to is a beautiful seventeenth century church in the centre of Oaxaca that has a stunningly detailed entrance that is carved in a baroque style. La Soledad is home to a statute of the ‘Virgin of Solitude’ (virgin de la soledad) who is Oaxaca’s saint. The beautiful La Soledad church is just 6 blocks from the zócalo.
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Oaxaca’s marvellous cathedral is next to the zócalo in the centre of Oaxaca. The initial construction of Oaxaca’s Cathedral began in 1535 and was based on the same designs as those used for the Cathedrals of Mexico City and Puebla. Oaxaca cathedral has undergone many subsequent periods of construction since then (some due to earthquake damage), to arrive at how the Cathedral looks today however.
Find out more about Oaxaca Cathedral
The San Felipe Neri church is an eighteenth century church in classic baroque style with hints of other influences. The San Felipe Neri Church is found in the centre of Oaxaca just 2 blocks from the zócalo and is the church where Oaxacan ex-president of Mexico Benito Júarez married Margarita Maza in 1841.
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San Agustín church is a medium sized church located just one block from the zócalo with a baroque style entrance. The original San Agustín church was finished in 1596 but was made from adobe bricks. The present day Agustín church is the product of a rebuild that started at the end of the seventeenth century but that wasn’t finished until 1722. San Agustín church has quite a colourful history.
Find out more about San Agustín Church (Saint Agustin Church)
The Santa Catalina monastery is now a luxury hotel one block from Santo Domingo Church and both were built by the same man. The Santa Catalina Monastery has a lovely roofed wash block with 12 washbasins that still exist to this day. Since its construction the monastery has been used for numerous purposes before it was name a national treasure in 1976.
Find out more about Santa Catalina de Siena Monastery
The ex-convent at Cuilapam de Guerrero is an extraordinary building that is unique in Oaxaca. Cuilapam’s ex-convent is famous for having no roof and there are a number of stories circulating to why this is, a favourite is that the devil kept knocking the roof off every time they put it on. These entertaining stories quite capture the imagination but it would appear unsurprisingly that these stories are completely Apocryphal.
Find out more about the Ex-convent of Cuilapam de Guerrero
The now Escuela de Bellas Artes (School of Fine Arts) is inside what was originally (up until 1947) the San José church. It is located just six blocks from the zócalo and is in front of La Soledad church in the Plaza de la Danza where the sellers of nieves (Traditional Oaxacan Ice Cream) congregate. The church is not the original building from the sixteenth century as the church has fallen down twice. The current San José (Escuela de Bellas Artes) church dates from the eighteenth century.
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The Nuestra Señora de la Merced church (Our lady of Mercy Church) is more commonly referred to in Oaxaca as simply ‘La Merced’ and is one of the most important churches in Oaxaca. It has quite a colourful history and nobody is exactly sure when it got built and construction could have possibly started at the in either the 16th or 17th century. The Merced church and convent are a mixed bag of styles which reflects its history well.
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Santísima Trinidad Church (The Trinity Church) was constructed in the late seventeenth century but the church that we see today is a reconstruction of the original Trinity church. The small Trinidad church is eleven blocks from the zócalo and is home of the ‘night of the radishes’ tradition.
Find out more about Santísima Trinidad de las Huertas Church
The Company of Jesus church ( Compañía de Jesús ) is located at one corner of the zócalo and 1 block from the 20th November market. The company of Jesus church is a sixteenth century church with construction having started in 1579 but it has fallen down on several occasions and been rebuilt since then so a more accurate date might be the eighteenth century. The company of Jesus church is quite plain from the outside making it quite easy to walk past without realizing.
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The Preciosa Sangre de Cristo Church (Sacred Blood of Christ Church) is a small church in the centre of Oaxaca that is built on what was the City’s main cemetery. The church is a stone’s throw away from the Santo Domingo church on the Alcala (the pedestrianized street in Oaxaca City Centre). You will undoubtedly walk past this church if you visit Oaxaca City, so why not pop in for a look?
Find out more about the Sacred Blood of Christ Church
The marvelous San Jerónimo church is set in the sleepy agricultural town of San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya twenty minutes’ drive outside Oaxaca City. The church dates from the sixteenth century and has a beautiful hand operated bellow driven organ that dates from 1739 and is still fully functional and is used for the churches routine services.
Find out more about San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya Church
A map of the churches, cathedrals and convents of Oaxaca
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