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There's nothin' but blue skies

At some point in my time in Mexico, Google introduced new backgrounds for your personal page, and I had found a shot from inside a sweet old cathedral without a roof. It came with no details as to where in the world it might be, and at some point I changed the image and couldn't change it back. It was with much irony that Google searches could not help me to then identify this church.

Researching our trip to Oaxaca, I learned of a colonial ear cathedral that was described as 'open air' and having no roof, and I made it well known that this was the one thing I cared most about seeing. After leaving the spider monkeys, our bus was scheduled to go to this cathedral, and it was indeed the one I had sought, and so I spent a long time trying to recreate the picture I had lost. The lighting was just right, but the cooperation of locals not giving a damn for moving from my artistic framings was not.

The basilica of the Ex-monastery of Santiago Apóstol was built on land nominally owned by the 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca, Hernán Cortés. This was disputed, as Cortés was not as richly rewarded as he might have hoped – the Viceroyalty of New Spain was not given to him, as he was a lower noble, and while the above Marquisate was made for him, it was whittled away in size later on. (Interestingly, the title still exists.)

The complex is a mix of many architectural styles, including Gothic, Renaissance, Plateresque and Moorish, and our guide pointed some elements out, including some very unusual capitals. He also gave some examples of Moorish words in the Spanish language. There are also plaques written in native pictograms, and also in Arabic, though I never saw the latter. There are is a painting showing the image of one of the Afro-Mestizo slaves who did the construction.

I have always wanted to climb into a pulpit, and being that no priest here was going to drive me out I took the opportunity, as there is one at the end of a small corridor built into the stone walls. I assume that most pulpits don't have the reek of human urine about them, as this one did.

As to why the basilica is not roofed, I never knew. Construction of the complex was 'paused' in 1570, but I had been told there had been a roof that was destroyed in a conflict. Open air chapel also means an outdoors area for mass to be said, and the complex also had one of these, as natives were distrustful of going inside Spanish building. (There is an example of an enclosed cathedral with a separate outdoor chapel in Cuernavaca.)

Aside from dropping a rusted, jagged metal statue that had been placed in our hotel bathroom onto my toe, and trying (unsuccessfully) to get a tetanus shot, that is all the adventure we had in Oaxaca.

There are maybe a dozen more posts to make about Mexico, and at this rate I'll be done in 4 months.


This lunar cycle

April 2015
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