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The oldest convent in Argentina

The convent of Santo Domingo in the city of La Rioja, in Northern Argentina was built in 1623, is the oldest temple in Argentina. Find out.

On May 20, but 1591, the Spanish Riojan  Juan Ramírez de la Piscina de Velasco y Ábalos, 52 years old,  founded the City of  Todos los Santos de La Nueva Rioja  , which is today the capital  of the province of La  Nueva Rioja homonymous in Argentina.
The conqueror was one of Philip II's favorite in this part of the continent. Juan before arriving in the  Indias  had a high  military  activity in Europe. The first recognition was to appoint him  governor of  Tucumán  . With that charge he arrives at the foot of a hill that eventually would carry his surname and, as required by the   Laws of the Indias  , he walks the Royal Banner in the area where the Plaza Mayor would rise, nailed the roll into it and declared founded the city, which he baptized with the aforementioned name in memory of his terroir.
The conquering   caravan   consisted of 500 soldiers and native Calchaquis, 750 horses, 4000 heads of cattle, and four Dominican friars. Among them  Friar Alonso Trueno . In the founding act Ramirez de Velazco puts the  village  under the protection of the martyr of the  Order San Pedro de Verona,  first patron saint of La Rioja.
Since then, with some brief interruptions, Dominican friars were present in the life of the  people of Rioja , exercising their  missionary vocation as preachers of the Gospel. Recently the Order left the  territory of the province  and all its temples passed to the secular clergy.

Getting to know the temple

From the most important  square  of the capital of Rioja, take along Pelagio Luna street and after walking two blocks, at the crossroads of Lamadrid street, you reach the place where the  convent  is located.
The old walls of Calicanto built by the  natives  next to the tiled carob frame of the entrance portal are the only thing that remains in the early  seventeenth century . That is enough to be considered the   oldest   church in Argentina.
The rest of the structure underwent modifications through the various parts carried out. The most important was the one that repaired the damage caused by the 1894 earthquake.
In what was formerly the  sacristy there are sacred  ornaments from the   colonial era  . Also a Silver Processional Cross made in 1671. In addition, an embroidered silk tablecloth, donated by General Angel Vicente Peñaloza to the  Virgen del Rosario . The military was a  warlord  of these lands in  unitary  and  federal  times, the name given to the civil war in this country.
The nave of  the oldest church in Argentina  is rectangular in plan. It measures only 47 meters and its width does not reach seven meters. What surprised me most is the great thickness of its side walls, made of stones and  adobe , they measure 1.25 meters.
In the simple altarpiece is the image of the  Virgin of the Naturals  (Our Lady of the Rosary), next to that of Santo  Domingo de Guzmán  , founder of the Order of Dominicans, and that of  St. Francis of Assisi  .

Traveller's tips

 Opening hours : The temple is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 to 12:30 and from 18:00 to 22:00. On Sundays, their doors open only in the morning.
 Patron saint festivities : they are held on August 8. On that occasion, the dress image of Santo Domingo de Guzmán is carried in procession.
Visiting the huge Neo-Byzantine Cathedral of 1899, with sober tones, contains the image of the patron saint Nicholas of Bari. It is an object of  devotion  for both the  Riojans  and the inhabitants of the neighboring provinces.


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