San Jose de Holguin Church

The Church of San Jose de Holguin
The Church of San Jose de Holguin

Historical Data on the Church of San Jose de Holguin

When Holguin was officially recognized as a municipality and after the city title was granted in the year 1752, a group of Franciscan friars accelerated its arrival to the new city with the objective of negotiating San Francisco Convent, which it would be served by the friars of this missionary order. The fundamental purpose of this convent would be to teach the children to read and write, to help the priest and the bigger sexton in their tasks and to offer mass to a bigger number of neighbors. The Franciscan friars built a small Hermitage in the place where is now Church of San Jose de Holguin. This Hermitage later on disappeared with the going of the friars. The construction of the church was authorized in 1803 and began in 1815. Since the church was financed by donations of the town took place. Its inauguration occurred in 1819. Back then the first baptism was carried out, specifically on September 2nd and the first wedding on October 4th of the same year.

The Church of San Jose de Holguin and its Constructive Characteristics

The Church of San Jose of Holguin was constituted by three areas, a central and two laterals, as well as a secondary body dedicated to the sacristy and the priest’s housing, located at the end of these areas to conform a single volume. Its facade had its respective steeple tower. The roof was made of tiles to two waters, with par and knuckle structure for the central area and hanging structure for the lateral ones. This roof was built to the Spanish usage and it didn’t possess decoration in its exterior as in the interior. Its doors and windows were finished off by half point arches. In the 1938 the amplification project in the temple was carried out, from which housing for the priest and their collaborators was added at the end. The sacristy was also modified, dividing it in receiver for the public, this sacristy per se and the organizer area. With this modification the lateral ones were amplified and in two levels, with an eclectic – neoclassicist style that was characteristic of the constructions of the first half of the XX Century in Cuba. This project was carried out by the architect Federico Navarrese and it cost a total of 1741.80 pesos.

The San Jose de Holguin Church

Among the main remodelings carried out to the San Jose of Holguin Church it stands that the piazza became integral part of the current areas and the choir was built over this with access through a snail stairway. The high part of the church has its access by the high of the posterior part of the building. In the presbytery cover where the biggest altar is located an octagonal dome was built with openings that allow the entrance of light to exalt the altar images. The roof of the central part was built higher than that of the lateral ships, which allows bigger ventilation. All these roofs were built of armed concrete, as well as the plaques of the new lateral bodies. Inside the temple and in its cover false canyon vaults were built for the central area and of four parts in the lateral ones. These new transformations that the temple suffered are registered in the neoclassical division of the eclecticism, due to the proposed use of the marked finish, in both interiors and exteriors. It has this form of the employment of polilobulados arches and false four parts vaults in the interior, to what it could be denominated as Mozarabic style, but still without concluding.

Outstanding Data on the Church of San José of Holguín

As much for its architecture as for its historical value, the Church of San Jose de Holguin is one of the architectural works of more relevance for the national context and for this Cuban oriental province. It was part of the Cuban wars of independence in the XIX century, specifically during the Holguin siege by the mambises (men that fought for the Cuban independence). It was constituted in one of the four points for the defense of the city for the Spanish army, since it was the highest construction where it could almost restrain the whole population. At the present there are still some prints in the walls of the tower of the mambi gunfire, although with the works of restoration of the temple have faded almost totally.

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