Neighborhood — Barrio del Ex. Marquesado, Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
Templo de Santa María del Marquesado • Colonial Church • (L)
The Dominicans built their first church on this site in 1727, dedicating it to St. Mary. It underwent several rebuilds because of earthquakes, until the present church was completed in the late 1800s. Set back from the busy Francisco Madero highway, the church faces west, overlooking a broad atrium shaded by large Ficus trees. A simple facade fronts the church, slightly recessed and set beneath an arch, the arch bracketed by two squat towers topped with belfires. The façade is laid out in three horizontal tiers, stacked one on top of the other, each tier diminishing in size, an arched main portal set between two statues lodged in deep shell niches on the first tier, an octagonal window on the second tier, and another statue set in a deep shell niche on the third tier. Inside, nothing remains of the original colonial furnishings and ornamentation.
- Calzada Francisco I. Madero, west of the old train station; Barrio del Ex. Marquesado.
Antigua Estación del Ferrocarril • Museum • (D)
Originally constructed in 1892, Oaxaca’s old train station in México’s now defunct national passenger rail system has recently been renovated and turned into a modest museum in honor of that bygone era. The renovation of the station building itself was nicely done, although there is little to see here in the way of exhibits, except for a few of the tools of the trade, along with a couple of refurbished boxcars converted into playrooms for kids.
The admission is free, and there is a large grassy field behind the station, so the folks in the neighborhood seem to have decided to make this place their very own local park. No harm there. The evenings and weekends seem to be the busiest, especially when there's a special event, such as live music, a market, or an art exhibit. Also on the premises, about a hundred meters northwest of the main entrance, just past the warehouse, is an ancient Montezuma Cypress tree, the same species as El Tule, the second stoutest tree in the world. This specimen, although estimated to be over five hundred years old, is nowhere near as wide or healthy looking as El Tule. Actually, it’s looking pretty worn out, like it’s barely hanging on.
It’s clear that whoever put this modest museum together had little money to work with. It’s also clear that their hearts were in the right place when they did so. So it’s kind of hard to slam them for their modest efforts. It’s just that none of this adds up to much of a reason to make the long schlep out here from the Centro, unless, of course, you or one of your kids is really into trains, or maybe if you’re just looking for an excuse to take a long walk through some neighborhoods most tourist never get around to seeing. The museum is located a couple of kilometers (a little over a mile) northwest of the Zócalo on the south side of busy Francisco Madero highway.
- Calzada Francisco I. Madero 511, west of the Centro; Barrio del Ex. Marquesado.