Gran Colombia y Padre Aguirre
The history of the Dominican Church and monastery is closely linked to the Spanish foundation of the city. The viceroy of Peru Andres Hurtado de Mendoza issued instructions to Gil Ramirez Davolos for the foundation in Cuenca of a monastery dedicated to St. Dominic. A few years later, in 1562, brother Tomas Galiano commenced the building works, completing them in 1569, and dedicating the buildings to Our Lady of the Rosary. The first monastery erected was a humble building made from bahareque, a type of adobe and straw, with very few priests for services.
The present day church was built between 1906 and 1926. Outstanding features of the facade are the two towers. Made from brick they stand forty metres high.
There are two chapels. This is the Chapel of the Virgin of the Rosary accessed from Gran Colombia Street.
The church bells are the largest in the city and are popularly known by the names of St. Rose and Ronca Moreno. In the first case this is due to its christening along with hundreds of other bells on the feast day of St. Rose, in Europe, in 1706. The other bell was apparently made in Cuenca on the basis of mingas -work in kind by the community under the supervision of Father Moreno, who wanted it to the largest and loudest in the city. The bell is 2.6 metres wide and 2 meters high, and it produces a deep, heavy sound. The towers can be seen from various points of the city.
At the very top is a statue of St. Dominic, the patron saint of the religious order, holding a string of rosary beads.
The interior floors of the church are based on wooden planks, arranged in a square shaped pattern.
Genuine treasures of the church are the colonial canvases depicting the fifteen mysteries of the rosary all with the same gold leaf frames. These paintings date to the 1700’s.
The monastery is accessed via an external door, and also another entrance is inside the church, linking the church to the cloister gallery.
The Festival de Luces celebration, in early December, begins in the Santo Domingo Plaza. The Virgin is brought outside to the front of the church, to bless the crowds.