Sunday, June 21, 2015

Historical Organs and ancient churches in remote villages of the Mixteca Region of Oaxaca

18 years ago, when my wife and I were traveling together with our four children, a good friend we were visiting in Italy asked my youngest child, a boy turning 12 at that time, what was his favorite place in the world. My wife and I expected an answer like Barcelona, or Northern Spain, or some place we had visited in Italy. Our son answered"Oaxaca!" He made us laugh, but the more I think about it, it seems to be a very good answer.
The courtyard of the Stamp Museum
(Museo de Filatelia) in Oaxaca,
site of the headquarters of the
Historical Organ Society of
As I wrote posts this week about Oaxaca, I realized how much of Oaxaca could be of interest to those who read this blog, how many beautiful churches and towns we could visit together, and how limited was my personal experience, and how over the next few months, I would like to travel back here, and visit so many beautiful places that were built in the XVI and XVII centuries.
Pictures of Historical Organs
 throughout the region of Oaxaca
IOHIO headquarters, Oaxaca
A very commendable movement has been sponsored by philanthropist Alfredo Harp Helu, forming an organization called iohio, which stands for Institute of Historical Organs of Oaxaca. They organize concert trips, visiting churches throughout the region,  with organs that have been restored,  from the XVIII century.  The concert trips usually is a five or six day affair, and they have guest organists from Europe who come and perform in the concert series.

Map of Oaxaca showing the villages
with churches with historical organs.
Cecilia Winter is the director of iohio. The Internet site is The Baroque Organ Festival includes programs in the Cathedral of Oaxaca and in La Soledad, both in the city, as well as concerts and events in Huayapam, Santa Maria de la Navidad Tamazulapan, Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán, Santa Maria Zautla, Tlacochahuaya and Tlaxiaco.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Church of Our Lady of Carmen, el Alto, Oaxaca

Main Altar,

As we leave the Cathedral of Oaxaca, we go past the ex Cloister of Saint Paul, then past the great Santo Domingo Church, and we gradually walk uphill, to "el alto", the "higher up", towards the Church of Our Lady of Carmen, "el alto", the "higher up".
Nave, Dome and Main altar.
Notice how the Churches of
the Carmelites always seem
so white and bright inside!

This place was once a temple here before the arrival of the Spanish, a temple, the Teocalli of Huaxyacac, where every July, a virgin was sacrificed,  in honor of Centeotl, the goddess of corn and agriculture.

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Side altar in Carmen El Alto

This feast gave way to a new Christian feast, the Guelaguetza, a feast still celebrated here in Oaxaca every year. In place of the Teocalli, the established a hermitage in honor of the True Holy Cross.

At the end of the XVII century, the Hermitage was replaced by this Church in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmen.

Elegant street in Oaxaca leading up from the
area of the Cathedral to where Santo Domingo
 and Carmen el Alto are situated.

This ancient tree gives shade to
the dusty but pleasant atrium of
the Carmen el Alto Church

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The ex-Cloister of San Pablo, Oaxaca

An old abandoned cloister, the cloister of San Pablo, once an important part of the religious life in Oaxaca, has returned to life, becoming an important cultural center, giving life and beauty to downtown Oaxaca.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Cathedral of Oaxaca, Our Lady of the Assumption

Started in 1535, and consecrated in 1733. One of the bell towers had to be rebuilt after the earthquake in 1931.
Back door to the Cathedral

Side entrance to the

View of one of the sides
of the Cathedral

Organ in main nave

The main Façade is flanked
by stone sculptures of
Saints Peter and Paul,
and is topped by a frieze of
Our Lady of the Assumption

Façade and left side of Cathedral
In front of main garden downtown Oaxaca

Closer look at stone figures
Façade of Cathedral

Detailed engraving on stone
pillars forming door frame.

Ornate carving of Arch and keystone.
Main entrance to Cathedral

Side Chapel of the Holy

Bronze sculpture of Our
Lady of the Assumption
by Todolini.

Dome and valut.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel, Santo Domingo Church,Oaxaca

Considered by many to be the most beautiful and regal church in Mexico, founded by the Dominican Friars and Missionaries in the XVI Century, is the Basilica of Santo Domingo, in the city of Oaxaca.
Our Lady of the Holy
Rosary Chapel, Oaxaca
Main altar and Retablo.

Dome of the Chapel of
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary,

Stucco vault ceiling in the back section of
the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary

Doorway leading out of the Chapel
into the main body of the Church.


Side door entrance to
Santo Domingo
Main altar retablo of
Santo Domingo

Gilded stucco ceiling of main vault
of Santo Domingo Church 

Retablo of Our Lady of

Main aisle and body
Interior of the Church
Santo Domingo

Baroque gilded stucco work
representing vegetation.  

Façade of Basilica de Santo
Domingo, Oaxaca

View of the Façade of the Basilica
of Santo Domingo, Oaxaca and Atrium
On the right, the separate entrance
to the Chapel of the Rosario.