Sunday, May 22, 2016

The former Monastery of Santo Domingo, now Centro Cultural de Oaxaca

The greatest center of study and formation for the Dominican Order in la Nueva España was the ex Convento de Santo Domingo, in the City of Oaxaca.

The Dominican Monastery began construction in the middle of the 16th Century. It was a complex covering over 40,000 square meters, or 10 acres. During the decade of 1860´s, the monastery was expropriated from the Dominicans, and as of 1866 all services were suspended in the Church. The church was reopened in 1902 for religious services.

Former kitchen oven of Monastery
The ex-Convent was turned over to the Mexican Army from the period that is was expropriated until 1993, when the Mexican Government decided to use it as a cultural center. Over the next 5 years, the ex-Monastery underwent a monumental restoration and reconstruction of Santo Domingo, which entailed the work of over 1000 artisans.
In many instances, the artisans had to recur to historical documents in order to "relearn" the original arts and crafts used by the Dominicans in the 16th Century, that had been in us, for ages, including painting, masonry, plaster-work, fresco decoration, stone carving, carpentry, iron-wrought casting and forging.

Refectory of former Monastery

Main courtyard with surrounding
archways with the Chapter Room

This passageway around the courtyard
is identical in designed to that of

The Plaza outside the Church of Santo Domingo

Brick and stone were the materials used in this
Monastic kitchen.

Closer look at the  hearth

Cactus garden is part of the Centro Cultural

"Jardin Historico Etnobotanico" as this garden of
cacti is called in Spanish

Estela descending majestic stairway.

Vault covering majestic main
stairway of former Monastery

Massive double stairway

The gilded white vault of the Monastery featuring
prominent Dominicans of the past.

Moon rising over the courtyard of Santo Domingo
Jade-covered death mask
In the Museum of the Centro Cultural de Santo Domingo, you may find the funeral artifacts recovered in Tomb 7 of the Monte Alban Pyramid and Archeological Site, including the famous but ominous Jade-covered death mask.

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