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"A golden church" Top 5 Page for this destination Santo Domingo Church Tip by TheWanderingCamel

Santo Domingo Church, Oaxaca de Juárez: 17 reviews and 44 photos

  Iglesia de Santo Domingo
by TheWanderingCamel
  • Iglesia de Santo Domingo - Oaxaca de Juárez
      Iglesia de Santo Domingo
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Magnificent! - Oaxaca de Juárez
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • The Rosary Chapel and dome - Oaxaca de Juárez
      The Rosary Chapel and dome
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Saint Dominic's family tree - Oaxaca de Juárez
      Saint Dominic's family tree
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Plaza steps - Oaxaca de Juárez
      Plaza steps
    by TheWanderingCamel

Late afternoon light turns the cream stone facade of Oaxaca's Iglesia de Santo Domingo, with its massive towers and high retablo entrance, a wonderful buttery gold. It's both impressive and beautiful, with a dignified simplicity. It's not only the light that is golden however. Step inside and the interior of the church will stop you in your tracks with its dazzling Baroque decoration. Every surface is encrusted with painted plaster and gilded reliefs of saints and martyrs, popes and biblical characters entwined in swirling leafy branches, shells and scrolls, their gorgeous richness only exceeded by the stunning golden retablos of the main altar and the Rosary Chapel. All is crowned by a soaring dome where rings of saints and martyrs rise in tiers to the central image of the Virgin of the Rosary. It is quite literally breathtaking.

Almost more extraordinary is the fact that nearly all of this opulance is modern restoration. The church was built by Dominicans in the 17th and early 18th centuries, a stunning expression of the Baroque. Just over 100 years later the War of Independence saw the church being used as a stable, the gold leaf stripped from the altars and the beautiful interiors damaged almost beyond repair. Although the church was returned to the clergy in 1898, it was to be another 40 years before the Dominicans returned. The restoration work was to continue for another 60 years!

Wide shallow steps lead up to the huge open plaza in front of the church; in the evening this is usually thronged with people. A smaller, quieter plaza opens off the south side of the church.

Even if churches are not your "thing" , don't miss this one! From the entrance with its family tree of Saint Dominic (tracing his ancestry back to the Virgin!) spreading over the ceiling through the great nave and all eleven side chapels, it is quite simply, gorgeous (in the truest sense of the word) and wonderfully exhuberant - a masterpiece of uniquely Mexican art and architecture.

Address: Calle Alcala
Directions: The church is usually closed in the afternoon, between 1 and 5

Please remember that this is a much used church, with services scheduled every day and people praying at all times.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Sep 23, 2006
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