Scenes of Santo Domingo, Iconic Oaxaca Church

One of the first destinations for tourists visiting Oaxaca is the iconic Santo Domingo Church at the corner of Macedonio Alcala and Gurrion. Construction started here in the late 1500’s within decades after Cortes first arrived here.  Each time I visit the city (I live in the country), I am drawn to  its architectural magnificence.   I often go back and forth from Calle 5 de Mayo to Av. Garcia Virgil, passing Sto. Domingo and must pay attention that it does not become part of the wallpaper!

From the rooftop terrace at La Olla restaurant you can see the details of the two domes and get a more intimate sense of the complexity of the structure.  Note the green broken glass trim on the wall to keep people from leaping and climbing!

From the top of Cerro del Fortin where the Auditorio Guelaguetza is located you can see Santo Domingo surrounded by the city lights.  It is the most prominent building in the Oaxaca valley.  After the Lila Downs concert ended and before we picked our way down the steep concrete Escalera del Fortin this view captivated me.  Without tripod, I leaned on the rail to keep my camera steady to get the best shot I could.

4 responses to “Scenes of Santo Domingo, Iconic Oaxaca Church

  1. The Moors left Spain the same year Columbus discovered America consequently Moorish influence was frequently found in Spanish architecture at the time of the Conquest. Seems the two biggest architectural traditions that found their way into New Spain were tilework and the Moorish arch. I’ve seen hacienda gates in the Yucatan with Moorish arches, this amazing fountain at Chiapa de Corzo in Chiapas, and even the roof at the church in Capulalpam has intricately patterned woodwork thought to be influenced by Moorish style. The more you look, the more you see it in Mexico.

    • Jewel, what great backgrounder and description, and thanks for the link, too. Yes, Mexican architecture is amazing — the colored tilework is everywhere, and even the patterns in the bricklaying is amazing. I very much appreciation your comment.

  2. Hi Norma,

    It occurred to me that the style of the Santo Domingo Church–and perhaps of many Spanish-style churches–shows Islamic influences as well, especially the use of tiles covering the tall cupolas, and in the shapes of the smaller, lower, rounded roofs in your shot taken from the La Olla restaurant. Have you heard anything to that effect? And, as usual, thanks for the great pictures!

    • Hi, Marsha, hmmm, I don’t know the answer to your question. I do know that the city of Puebla was built by Spanish who brought the talavera tile craftsmen from Spain. Most were trained by Moors or were of Moorish heritage. Thus, Puebla has very strong Islamic influences because the facades of buildings, houses and churches are covered in talavera, as are the domes of the churches. I’ll ask people who know more than I do about the architectural influences that created Sto. Domingo. And, maybe someone out there can contribute their knowledge, too. Thanks for the inquiry!

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