Oaxaca City, Mexico
NileGuide Expert tip:
Many people come to the Basilica's upper plaza to eat ice cream, since the lower plaza is filled with vendors.
This church, with its 79 ft (24 mts) high Baroque facade, is the religious center of Oaxaca. It was built in 1690 to house the image of the Virgin of Solitude (Virgen de la Soldedad), the State of Oaxaca's patron saint.
The face is unique in Mexico because of it's projecting forward from the building, suggesting a retablo (a folding wooden altarpiece).
The inside is heavily decorated as well. The Virgin is the main protagonist, and is quite famous for her clothes. Her vestments are encrusted with pearls, and until a years ago, before it was stolen, her crown was made out of 4lb of gold and decorated with diamonds.
Though both the facade and the interior are heavily decorated, the church itself is not very tall (as many other churches built around Mexico during the XVII Century were) because Oaxaca is a strong earthquake area.
Legend has it that a donkey that didn't belong to anybody sat down on a rock and refused to move. On his back, the donkey had a box, and inside the box the hands and the face of the Virgin were found. A few days later the Virgin herself revealed on that spot, and there's where the church was built. You can still see the rock, to your right, as you enter the church.
Adjoining the church is a former convent with a museum that could only be described as "a curios blend of pieces".