From the library we crossed over the road to the Iglesia de San Francisco a Franciscan church which was consecrated in 1622 and is perhaps the oldest colonial-era building in Chile. The side facing Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins Avenue street is graffitied:
The entrance is on the side: This shot was taken later on a night time stroll: The Order of St. Francis settled in Santiago soon after the first colonizers in 1554 and were entrusted with sheltering the Virgen del Socorro, (Our Lady of Perpetual Relief/Help) the first Virgin Mary icon brought to Chile by Pedro de Valdivia, the conquistador of Chile, who believed it would protect him from Native attacks. They built a little chapel which was destroyed by earthquake (apparently without damage to the Virgin Mary) and the present-day church was built between 1586 and 1618.
Today that Virgin Mary sits in the high altar.
Basically since the time of building the only modifications done to the church have been to reinforce the structure each time an earthquake has affected it. …. With the exception of the bell tower!
The bell tower was destroyed by an earthquake in 1647 and in 1730 the rebuilt tower was damaged in another earthquake. A third tower was built but it too was damaged by earthquake and demolished in 1854. The current bell tower was completed in 1857 – designed by architect Fermin Vivaceta it features a clock of four spheres.
The organ was installed in 1857..
The pulpito is amazing:
Now for a few of the technical details: Originally the church was built on a cross-shape plan with large stone blocks. Sometime in the late 1700’s lateral naves were erected changing the cross-like shape to a rectangular shape. The roof is clay tiles over a wood structure. The decorated stuccoed ceiling of the nave was done in 1615 and is of Mudejar style. The door connecting the sacristy with the cloister consists of three panes of carved cypress wood covering a space of 5 x 3 metres. The choir stalls are also of cypress. The cloisters walls are made of adobe and the Tuscan-style columns are brick. There are screens of mahogany and an amazing coffered ceiling (cypress) detailed with flower motives.