Church of Santo Domingo

The Church of Santo Domingo in Oaxaca was established by the Dominicans in the seventeenth century. Construction for the Church of Santo Domingo began in 1575, it did not finish until 1731 when the Chapel of the Rosary was completed. Starting in 1812 the church was used as military barracks. In 1859, during the Reform War, the military closed the Chapel of the Rosary and the Dominican friars were forced into exclaustration. The Chapel of the Rosary was not re-opened until 1898, but the military continued to stay in the church. The military did not fully vacate the church until 1994 and returned it to the Dominicans. In 1998 the Santo Domingo Cultural center was created with the help of local artist Francisco Toledo, consisting of the ethnobotanical garden, Museum of the Cultures of Oaxaca, and two libraries Francisco de Burgoa, and Nester Sanchez. Francisco Toledo is an artist from Oaxaca that is known for helping create museums and develop culture in Oaxaca. In 1993 he created the “Museo se Arte Contemporeáno de Oaxaca," or translated in English the Contemporary Art Museum of Oaxaca.

The “Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca” has twenty-three permanent exhibits, and it contains artifacts from Pre-Hispanic times through the colonial period. The most prized exhibit is the treasures found in Tomb Seven at Monte Alban. Tomb Seven was discovered by archaeologist Alfonso Caso in 1931. He found over 400 pieces of carved bone, gold, silver, and turquoise. Caso also found approximately thity-four craved bones that were Mixtec style, not Zapotec. An iconic discovery made was of a skull with jade affixed to it like a mosaic laying on an altar. A large sum of those findings are found at the exhibit in the museum.

The Francisco de Burgoa library is named after a Dominican friar that lived and taught theology in the church during the seventeenth century. Burgoa also wrote two books, Palestra historial in 1670 and Geográfica descripción in 1674. Burgoa thought of his two books as a set of the history of Oaxaca. He even had meetings with native leaders to discuss their history. Though he took an interest in the history of Oaxaca, like other Christians he believed the native religions to be works of the devil. He strived to destroy all remnants of the indigenous religions. Burgoa believed that the Dominicans were going to lead humans to redemption through their teachings.