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Virgen de la Soledad basilica
The present sanctuary was built in 1617. According to popular belief, a muleteer from Veracruz in route to Guatemala noticed he had one too many mules in his pack upon his arrival in Oaxaca. Outside the San Sebastian hermitage, the mule collapsed under the burden it was carrying. All attempts by the muleteer to get it back on its feet were futile; so to avoid punishment he notified the authorities. When he lifted the load off the mule, it got up and died instantly. The burden was inspected, and they found an image of the Virgin accompanied by Christ on it, along with a sign that said, "The Virgin by the Cross." Faced with this momentous event, Bishop Bartolome Bohorquez ordered a sanctuary built in honour of the divinity.
The temple’s construction, the present Basilica, was begun in 1682, by Chaplain Fernando Mendez and sanctioned by the Viceroy Tomas Aquino Manrique de la Cerda. It was finished in 1689, and consecrated in 1697 by Bishop Isidro Sariñana y Cuenca, the same year the convent was included.
It is an elegant temple, notable for its sumptuous stone portal in the shape of a folding screen, richly carved in various stones. The interior of the temple keeps an image of the Virgin of Solitude among veneration objects. She is recognised as the Spiritual Patron of Oaxaca. She is adored and worshiped in similar manner to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The temple is among the most outstanding religious architectural examples of the viceroyalty period in Oaxaca, mainly due to its main entrance’s baroque style of the seventeenth century. The portal is unique in the city; its chief characteristic being a folding screen shape and overlying sections, which give the appearance of an enormous buttress. It is composed of three sections, seven calles, and pinnacle.
The atrial courtyard is enclosed and fitted with two simple access portals, one facing south, and the other east. The latter leads to the Socrates Garden and the Plaza de la Danza.
The architectonic layout of the temple is in the shape of a Latin cross. Groin vaults cover the nave. The cross vault is resolved with gajos con linternilla, supported by octagonal towers with clerestory windows and recesses. Barrel vaults cover the transepts and the apse with a groined vault. The space under the choir, located on the first panel, stands out for the great imposts supporting the arch, which in turn sustains the choir platform. The latter is remarkable because of its wooden door and pipe organ.
The Basilica of the Virgin of Solitude is located six blocks west of the Zócalo, between Independencia Avenue and Morelos Street, in the Historical Centre of the City.