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Temples, Churches and Ex-monasteries
Oaxaca is the point of reunion of vast indigenous tradition and the no less vast Hispanic culture. United, these bore fruit in mestizo expressions that endure to this time in customs,, music and the everyday presence of people and in constructions conforming the magnificent buildings of New Spain. They reveal the magnificence of some, and the simplicity and sobriety of others. Occupying a prominent place are churches and convents of the City of Oaxaca and Cuilapan in the Central Valleys, Yanhuitlan, Teposcolula and Coixtlahuaca in the Mixteca, among others. It is a legacy of Neo-Hispanic greatness, but also testimony of a new manner of transforming reality and creating a new culture.
Oaxacan landscape invites discovering and exploring the vast solitude of surrounding valleys, and the serene beauty of convents of yesteryear, today fortresses of faith. These are places where the past has maintained all its richness within for the exploring visitors.
Most of the temples and ex convents were built with green quarry stone and date from the sixteenth century. Religious orders established Caminos de la Cruz (Roads of the Cross) in New Spain to perform their evangelical work. In this spiritual conquest, the Dominicans had a greater presence and built their walls over old Ceremonial Centres, supporting them on huge pre-Hispanic platforms. To this end, they created a new type of architecture to carry out new challenges as memorials of the past. Thus, the "Capilla Abierta" (Open Chapel) originated, a masterpiece of American Architecture.
The contribution of indigenous artisans is remarkable. They were excellent stone and wood engravers; excellent jewellers and painters of codices.
In this manner, we receive a unique legacy laden with beauty and truth. The structures built by indigenous groups, under the direction of experienced architects who were undoubtedly monks, implied colossal efforts to create true jewels of monumental temples and convents. The facades and retables with their sculptures and paintings bear witness of the fusion of two great cultures.