Santo Domingo Church in Oaxaca is located on a pedestrian-only street in the capital city of culturally-rich Oaxaca State.
The building, first called Santo Domingo Grande, was begun in 1572 and reconstructed many times by the Dominican order due to repeated earthquakes.
The building, when completed in the early part of the seventeenth century, covered 40.000 square meters. It was first occupied in 1608 to serve as a church and convent
Santo Domingo Church, Oaxaca, Mexico
Santo Domingo Cultural Center was once a Dominican church and convent. After more than four years of preservation and restoration, it opened in 1998 as the City's premier museum.
These are two examples of the many burial urns in the collection.
The Santo Domingo Church was started in 1558 when the Dominican order acquired the land in the city of Villa de Antequera, as Oaxaca was then called. Construction continued sporadically until 1608 when the church and convent were first inhabited.
Cociyo the Rain God, the reigning deity during Monte Alban's Classic period, 200 to 800 AD.
Tours are conducted in the gardens in several languages for 100 pesos. (Volunteer Docent assignments available)
Oaxaca State's diverse climate zones range from coastal jungle to mountain rain forest and have more species of plants than that found in all of Europe with new ones found on occasion during the frequent botany expeditions.
The Mixtec people entering the Valley of Oaxaca from the northern mountains brought with them a knowledge of metal working in gold silver and copper. They as a burial place, re-using Zapotec tombs to bury their dead.
The Santo Domingo Cultural Center displays the Mixtec art found in the Tomb Seven offering in a special room devoted to this treasure, a collection considered to be the most significant tomb offering ever found in the new world.
The ability to work crystal, lost wax process gold and silver, and turquoise were hallmarks of the highly-developed Mixtec skill in creating ornamental jewelry and tomb offerings.
The Santo Domingo Church is now part of a Cultural Center housing second floor galleries that display chronologically arranged antique art objects uncovered in the many ruin sites throughout the State. On the first floor an antique book library and a journalists reading room are adjacent to gallery and meeting spaces.
The government took over all church property and at one time occupied the entire building.
The church closed in 1866 and did not open again until 1902.
The military returned the building to civil control in 1993 and it was designated for cultural use.
In July of 1998, after 50 months of restoration and preservation work, the Santo Domingo Cultural Center opened for visitors
On the north and east sides of the museum complex, a botanical garden designed to display and protect Oaxaca's indigenous plants is open for guided tours in several languages, the Oaxaca Historical Ethnobotanical Garden
The Santo Domingo Church is now part of The Santo Domingo Cultural Center, home to four institutions, The Oaxaca Historical Ethnobotanical Gardens, The Oaxaca Cultures Museum, The Friar Francisco de Burgoa Library, and the Journalist Nestor Sanchez H. Publications Library.
The publications library has reading rooms for visitors where newspapers and magazines are available. The Burgoa Library preserves antique books that date back to 1484 and are available to scholars. Many other sections of the complex become art galleries for changing photography exhibits and concert and meeting space.
Zapotec burial urns of the classic period were mold-made clay vessels unique to Oaxaca. The mass produced vessels contain symbols of water, corn, Venus, and the stars in the headpiece and cartouche and are found within the tombs or at the entrance.
Under civil domain the church became a cultural resource. Once designated as cultural space in 1993 it underwent extensive historic restoration on the interior and exterior.
The church and former convent went through more than four years of research, restoration, and renovation to open as the Santo Domingo Cultural Center in July of 1998.
The church grounds and buildings are scenes of concerts. The church often is a parade stop for the many Oaxacan festivals.
The main building is still an active church with daily services while remaining open during the day for visiting tourists
The Santo Domingo Cultural Museum is perhaps best know for its collection of ancient art, particularly the gold and silver tomb art found in the nearby ruin of Monte Alban.
Secretaria de Tourismo
How to Get There
From the Zocalo go north to the Llano Park and the theater building at 703, the office is on the right side of the building.