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Templo del Carmen Bajo — Oaxaca City, Oaxaca

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Colonial Church     (R)
A small church constructed of mud-brick walls and straw roofing was built on this site in 1554, dedicated to Las Lágrimas de San Pedro, the Tears of San Pedro. In the early 1700s, the Carmelites took control of the church, dedicating it to the Virgen del Carmen. Adhering to the strict racial caste system of New Spain, they set this church, the Carmen Bajo, aside exclusively for people of pure indigenous or mixed ancestry, indios or mestizos, while their other, more grandiose church, the Carmen Alto, only allowed persons born in Spain, gachupines, or of pure Spanish descent, criollos, to worship there.

An earthquake heavily damaged the church in 1801. Soon after, a new church constructed of wood was built to replace it. Tragedy struck again in 1862, this time a fire burning the wooden church to the ground. Once again, work on a new church began almost immediately, this one built of stone, though, its structure more permanent, the effort taking a decade to complete, the church still standing today.

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