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Temples, Churches and Ex-monasteries
Santa Catalina de Siena
Archbishop Friar Bernardino de Albuquerque founded it in 1568, under the name "Rosary of Maria Monastery." It began functions, provisionally, in a house lent by Albuquerque, along with four Franciscan nuns brought from Mexico City. In 1579, Hernando Cavarcos was entrusted with the building’s construction as he directed construction of the Santo Domingo de Guzman Temple. It is known that construction of this convent began late in the sixteen century and was completed during the eighteen-century.
Due to the nuns’ secularisation ordered by the Reform Laws of 1862, the convent was used as a jail and the temple and atrium became the Municipal Palace. Posteriorly, the temple was a movie house, which required a new door on the western wall that exists to this day. In the early part of the century, a Masonic lodge used a fraction of the corner between Reforma and Murguia Streets. In 1950, the Abraham Castellanos School, on Reforma Street used the rest of the structure. Lastly, in 1976, the ex convent became the Presidente Hotel, today the Camino Real Hotel, and was declared a national treasure.
Originally, the group of buildings occupied an entire block. Up until secularisation, the public had access to the temple through two doors that opened to the atrium situated on the southern side. In 1873, the Municipal Palace was built where the atrium used to be, and now the hotel occupies the rooms.
The ex convent, located on the north side of the temple, is divided in four different areas, which were originally six. Each has a small courtyard surrounded by two-story structures. Circulation and access to the various rooms is possible through covered corridors.
In the north-western courtyard, now property of the hotel, of note is the set of twelve washbasins in a minute octagonal building crested with a Mudejar cupola. It represents the most significant hydraulic system of the colonial era.
The main facade is composed of two levels and covers the entire block of 5 de Mayo Street. The former Santa Catalina de Siena Temple divides it in two parts. The right side corresponds to the Municipal Palace. It has whitewashed walls, windows with bars and balconies made of wrought iron. The access to this area is a flat bay, flanked by two affixed mixed patterned columns. In the upper corner, is a clock with the inscription 1960-1962.
The left side belongs to a former cloister. The wall is also whitewashed, and has quadrangular windows protected with wrought iron bars. To the right, is the main hotel entrance composed of an arched threshold without ornamentation. The temple’s facade is slightly recessed from the overall structure; it does not have bell towers or decorative elements. It is notable for its green stone ashlar masonry.
When visiting Oaxaca, it is a mandatory visit for those who would like to enjoy the Vieja Antequera.
It is located 5 blocks north-east of the Zócalo of the City of Oaxaca, between the streets of 5 de Mayo, Reforma, Abasolo, and Murguia.