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Templo y Convento de San Augustín — Oaxaca City, Oaxaca

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Colonial Church     (F)

Templo y Convento de San Augustín — Oaxaca City, Oaxaca

Arriving in the city in 1580, the Augustinians erected their first church on this site in 1589. Earthquakes destroyed the original and subsequent churches, once again wrecking havoc, until the present church and its adjoining convent were completed in 1732.

Facing west, the church’s retablo façade overlooks a large, slightly sunken stone plaza. Like all retablo facades, this one is laid out in horizontal tiers, in this case four, arranged vertically, stacked one on top of the other, the bottom three tiers divided into three rectangular sections, the central sections filled with an arched main portal on the first tier, a splendid central relief of St. Augustine, the order’s founder, enclosed in an eared frame on the second tier, and an octagonal window opening into the choir loft on the third tier, deep shell niches with statues of saints filling the outer sections of the bottom three tiers, the niches bracketed in pairs of columns, a gable enclosed relief topping off the façade on the fourth tier.

But the real attraction lies inside — three gilded and heavily ornamented baroque retablos, assembled from statues, paintings, and pieces of original retablos from the colonial period.

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