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Templo de San Francisco — Oaxaca City, Oaxaca

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Colonial Church     (G)

Templo de San Francisco — Oaxaca City, Oaxaca

Late comers to the early evangelization efforts in the city, the Franciscans wasted no time in erecting a small, though poorly constructed, chapel and monastery on this site when they first arrived in 1592. Lack of resources hampered later attempts at constructing more permanent replacements for these buildings. Perseverance, however, eventually paid off, and a century later a new church and monastery were finally completed in the early 1690s.

And then, as fate would have it, the great earthquake of 1696 struck, soon followed by another powerful earthquake in 1697, both earthquakes heavily damaging the church and monastery, both buildings all but abandoned for the next eighty years, before construction on a new church and monastery, the current ones, finally got underway in 1776. Once undertaken, though, work progressed rapidly, and both buildings were completed a short four years later.

The church’s elegant façade — which is unique in the city — is still intact and has been completely restored. Slightly recessed and set beneath an arch, the façade is carved from gray limestone (not the green stone that is so ubiquitous in the city) and sculpted in the Churrigueresque style that was in vogue at the time. The interior of the church, however, hasn't fared so well, with most of its furnishings and ornamentation having been stripped out over the centuries, the once splendid interior denuded, left barren.

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