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Templo y Convento de San José — Oaxaca City, Oaxaca

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Colonial Church     (F)
The Jesuits built their first church on this site in 1595. It withstood the numerous earthquakes of the 17th century, until the great earthquake of 1696 finally destroyed it. Soon after, the order turned to rebuilding, constructing a new church, the present one, and an adjacent convent housing Franciscan nuns, the church completed in 1728 and dedicated to St. Joseph, the convent finished in 1744.

The church and the convent’s solid but sober exteriors, save a few minor baroque flourishes above their portals, face east, overlooking the wide, sunken Plaza de Danza, as well the Palacio Municipal and Basílica de la Soledad, both lying on the plaza’s western edge.

Little from the colonial period has survived inside either building, renovations having stripped both of their colonial character. That said, the ex-convent, now home to the School of Fine Arts, is the more interesting of the two architecturally, beginning with its main portal, which leads through a long, wide passageway, the ceiling low and vaulted, tunnel like, before opening into a large two-story cloister, ringed with arches, a small, inoperable fountain lying at its center.

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