Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One Project Finally Finished!

San Ignacio Church looks plain from the outside, but was a pioneer when constructed. 
In a city in which public works projects seem to drag on forever, it's nice to see something get finished!

Earlier this month renovation work was completed on San Ignacio Church, located on Calle 10 just east of Plaza Bolívar. The church appears pretty plain from the outside, but apparently has quite a spectacular interior - which I've never seen, since I've never found the church's doors open. 

Dogs' head decorations on San Ignacio's doorway. 
San Ignacio, built by the Jesuits, or Company of Jesus, beginning in 1610 (sections were added during the following centuries), had suffered from age, a 1763 earthquake which destroyed the cupola, and structural modifications by the Colegio de San Bartolome on the church's western side. In 1776, the king of Spain threw the Jesuits out of the Americas, forcing them to abandon their churches.

This page about Bogotá arquitecture calls the San Ignacio Church "the most important 17th-century building in Nueva Granada" because it was the first church to have a cupola, or dome, and because of the integrated concept of its interior space. I'll have to take their word for that.  

The church's renovation, begun in 2004 and carried out by the Jesuits order and Javeriana University (a Jesuit university), tried to recreate the church's original materials, including lime, clay and earth.  

A close up of San Ignacio's coat of arms,
showing lions, castles  and what looks like
some sort of dead rodent at the bottom. 
With the restoration completed on San Ignacio (its exterior, at least), the historical center's only major ongoing renovation project is the Teatro Colon one block uphill. 

Tenth must be one of the neighborhood's best-preserved streets, from Plaza Bolivar east all the way 
uphill to Carrera 2. Unfortunately, however, many buildings west of Plaza Bolivar have fallen into disrepair. 

Of course, about the last thing the La Candelaria neighborhood needed was yet another old church, no matter how beautiful. It has at least a dozen of them, including at least four within a three-block radius, giving no Catholic any excuse for missing mass. 

Now, let's see whether the Catholic Church can finish its other great project: repairing its section of the hiking path to the Iglesia de Monserrate, which was damaged by landslides about two years ago. Now that the city says it's repaired its own part of the path up to the church, it is incomprehensible why the church does not put the final several hundred yards, which it owns, back into hikeable condition. Many faithful Bogotanos of modest means can't afford the cable car, preventing them from making the pilgrimage to the hilltop church.   

San Ignacio Church's doorway. 

The church is still behind gates, but hopefully will open its doors soon. 

The San Ignacio Church's coat of arms. 

The statue of educator Camilo Torres in front of Colegio San Bartolome, located between the San Ignacio Church  and Plaza Bolivar. 

A pigeon flies past the statue of Simon Bolivar on Plaza Bolívar,  with La Catedral behind. 

Metalwork of the Teatro Colon - the Colon Theatre - a block uphill from the San Ignacio Church. 

A detail of the metalwork on the Colon Theatre one block uphill. 

The front of a neighboring building. 

Iglesia La Candelaria, on Calle 11. 

A streetlamp. 
Pattern of 'windows' on the rear of La Catedral Mayor. Are the three lower apertures windows? For defense purposes? For supplies? Perhaps they connected the Cathedral to another building since demolished. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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