Santo Domingo de Guzmán Church – Oaxaca City
Santo Domingo church in Oaxaca is Oaxaca’s most famous church and is understandably an immensely popular tourist attraction. It is home to The Santo Domingo Cultural Centre (Centro Cultural Santo Domingo de Guzmán), and Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden, which are two very popular attractions in their own right and well worth a visit. Building started on the ex-convent of Santo Domingo in 1552 and took around a century to build, though it was occupied from 1608 when Saint Paul’s Cathedral fell down leaving the friars who occupied it at a loose end. The building itself has two unusual high (for Oaxaca which is a seismic Zone) domed towers and a large paved plaza in front of the entrance which is has landscaped borders containing maguey cacti.
Santo Domingo church was occasionally used by troops during the unsettled period surrounding Mexico´s independence and when the reform laws came into force the Dominican friars were forced out and Santo Domingo was occupied by the armed forces, and it is for this reason that the church was closed for services between 1866 and 1902. The armed forces used Santo Domingo church as a cavalry depot and around 1869 Santo Domingo was pillaged doing a great deal of damaged.
Little by little the Dominicans managed to regain parts of Santo Domingo, starting with the church which in 1902 was reopened for services; later in 1905, the courtyard was given back to the church on the condition that they built the army a new cavalry headquarters. These new cavalry headquarters were financed by Bishop Gillow with whom the Dominicans didn’t see eye to eye and the Dominicans had to wait until 1938 to regain administration of Santo Domingo. At the beginning of the 20th century, half of the Santo Domingo convent was donated to the Autonomous University of Benito Júarez, and 1972 saw the creation of the regional museum of Oaxaca which now goes by the name of Centro Cultural Santo Domingo de Guzmán (CCSD). The Mexican military occupied Santo Domingo from 1860 till 1994 when Santo Domingo church was finally returned to the Dominicans.
After the return of Santo Domingo church an ambitious program of cultural development was undertaken and resulted in the creation of the marvelous ethnobotanical garden and the Centro Cultural Santo Domingo de Guzmán (CCSD).
A visit to Santo Domingo Church is a Must if you are in Oaxaca City, you will be very disappointed if you miss it. Santo Domingo church is located just six blocks from the zócalo along the pedestrianized Alcala Street.
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A map showing the location of Santo Domingo Church
Photos of Santo Domingo de Guzmán Church
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It's closed for siesta/comida 2-4pm. Go before siesta for the best light. Truely world class gorgeous interior.
Having been blessed to visit Oaxaca 3 times, I made the Santo Domingo church my first stop on both my second and third visits, and was more impressed than I had ever even hoped to be. The ceiling is as impressive as anything I've ever seen, including extensive travels in Europe, Africa and the Americas. Do not miss seeing the place if life takes you to Oaxaca.