Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oaxaca Day 6

Today is going to be a rest day. A little shopping and a little church. I'm not going to get religious on you, but these are definitely the most beautiful churches that I have ever seen. The weird thing is that you will see one of these magnificent buildings, then turn around and a couple of blocks further, protruding over the rest of the buildings, there with be the telltale signs of another church. This isn't like midtown Sacramento where there is a church of a different denomination on every block. These are all clearly Catholic churches, each with gilded alters, flowery ceilings, and built using local materials.

I am again going to rely on Bruce Whipperman's handbook "Oaxaca" to provide the basis for some of this information.

Most of Mexico's colonial-era churches were built by European architects embellishing them with old-world Gothic, Renaissance, baroque, and Moorish decorations. Native artists here blended in their own geometric, floral, and animal motifs resulting in a hybrid unique from anywhere else.

The Basilica de la Soledad was a little simpler than the rest that I visited. Luckily, they started a noon blessing ceremony when I was wandering around and got to sit in for a few minutes. There was a lot of singing and Spanish going on and I wasn't following so I slipped out.

Here is a picture of a massive memorial for the deceased outside of Basilica de la Soledad.

These are pictures of Basilica de la Soledad.

The next church is the building right next to our hotel, San Felipe Neri. One thing about the churches around here, they are almost always open. I have walked by at 7 am and seen masses going on. Strolled by at 10 pm and the doors were open with people walking around taking pictures. The locals call this one the funeral church. It was the first one I walked into during my stay and was the inspiration for me to check out the others that I have included.

A few blocks further, is the celebrated Santa Inglesia Cathedral. Sitting in the center of the historic district on Alameda De Leon adjacent to the Zocolo, there is always a buzz of activity around it. This is the church where the weddings take place. Walking around the inside, in addition to the splendor of the central area, there are ornately decorated side rooms dedicated to saints, popes, various stages of the life of Jesus, and other people. There are locked gates on the majority of them, but when I went by on this occasion, there was a crowded mass going on in one of them. A lot of chanting, a lot of Spanish. I took my pictures and moved on.

Here are a couple of those side rooms. There are pews and prayer candles in them.

More shots from Santa Inglesia Cathedral. Who knew that Saint Pablo got to carry a sword?

I saved the most impressive church for last. Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman was incredible. Its original construction started in 1572 by Dominican fryers and was completed over 200 years later. The ornate ceilings, ornate statues, and detailed paintings were breathtaking.

Enough churches for the day. My friend JP arrived into town at evening time and we finally have someone who speaks fluent Spanish in our group. The people here really don't speak much English outside of the hotel (primarily the hotel guests) and the cooking school students. Surprisingly, Shane and I were able to complete every Spanish conversation (be it an inquiry, a purchase, or a compliment) with the desired result, and often and unintended laugh.

I took JP for a walk around the Zocolo and to a torta place I discovered while inspecting churches. The aroma was so tantalizing there. Unfortunately, we got there right at closing time. They were still able to fulfill our order, but the choices were limited. I got the torta Oaxaquena with pork (they were out of the Oaxacan chorizo). JP got the torta Cubana.

Tomorrow is a nine hour cooking class at Seasons of My Heart with Susana Trilling. We are going to be cooking some sort of guisado (meat stew). I had requested either mole estofado or mole chichilo based on her cook book. We shall see how that goes. Hasta la vista.

1 comment:

  1. beautiful pictures! i love all the silver and blue. iglesia de santo domingo looks stunning. and it just dawned on me that all your posts end with a photo of a bike/cart. I'm a little slow. but i love the collection.