green cantera stone and shows a strong Renaissance influence. The two 35 meter (115 ft.) towers are unusual in this area of high seismic activity. Many churches in the area which were built before or during the construction of Santo Domingo suffered greatly from earthquakes. Building such high towers must have been a real act of faith.
invited by Hernán Cortéz to New Spain to evangelize the indigenous people, whose allegiance to their old gods was disconcerting to the conquistadors. The Dominicans were famous for their ability to convert the heathen of Spain and North Africa, and the first of them arrived in New Spain in 1526, only five years after the defeat of the Aztecs. Frays Gonzalo Lucero and Bernardino de Minaya were the first two in Oaxaca, arriving in 1529. Somewhere between 1570-1575, the Dominicans began work on their church and convent in Oaxaca, a project which continued for almost 200 years. From 1608 to 1857, the Dominican Order used Santo Domingo de Guzman as the seat of the Province of San Pedro Martir, an area that comprised the modern states of Oaxaca, Morelos, Tlaxcala, and parts of Campeche, Chiapas, and Yucatan.
Dominican Order in 1215 AD. The tree spreads in all directions with scores of lifelike representations of de Guzman's relatives and ancestors. This is one of the finest examples of artwork of its time. The Family Tree is much larger than what I was able to capture in one photo and is stunning in its complexity.
Baroque style popular in the 17th Century. At the top of my photo is an arch forming the last portion of the Family Tree. Then begins a long arched ceiling covering the main nave, supported by columns and portal arches along each side. Each of the portal arches leads into a separate chapel devoted to a particular saint. Just after the main ceiling ends is the concave interior of the main dome, followed by a golden wall, called the retable, at the back behind the altar. Note to fellow photographers: don't attempt to photograph this during the day. It will be dark and shadowy, and flashes are not allowed. However, in the evening after the last service there is a window of about 15 minutes when the entire area is illuminated just before the church is closed for the day. It's not much time, but it will be your best chance to capture some of this splendor.