South America
La Paz
Church of St. Dominic

A brief description

Pedro de la Gasca, to whom the Spanish King had entrusted rule over the former Inca lands, commanded Captain Alonso de Mendoza to found a new city commemorating the end of the civil wars in Peru. Then the city of La Paz was founded in October 20th, 1548 under the name of La Ciudad de Nuestra Señora de La Paz (The City of Our Lady of Peace). The city was first established in what today is Laja, on the Tiahuanaco road. Shortly after its founding, La Paz was moved to its present location, in the valley of the Chuquiago Marka.
In 1549, Juan Gutierrez Paniagua was commanded to design an urban plan that will designate sites for public areas, plazas, official buildings. La Plaza de los Españoles, which today constitutes the Plaza Murillo, was chosen as the location for government buildings as well as the cathedral.

Spain controlled La Paz with a firm grip and the Spanish King had the last word in all matters political. In 1781, for a total of six months, a group of Aymara people laid siege to the no longer peaceful city of La Paz. Under the leadership of Tupac Katari, they destroyed churches and government property. Thirty years later Indians laid a two-month siege on La Paz. In 1809 the struggle for independence from the Spanish rule brought uprisings against the royalist forces. Today La Paz is a vibrant city, growing and expanding in all directions. La Paz has a population of more than a million inhabitants. La Paz is the official government site.

 The Diocese of La Paz was separated from that of Charcas by Paul V, 4 July, 1605. In the records of the Audiencia de Charcas, preserved in the 'Archivo General de Indias' at Simancas, Diego de Zambrana y Guzmán appears to have been the first Bishop, though he apparently did not take possession of his see. The first Bishop vouched for by history was Domingo Balderrama, O.P., who assumed office in 1610; he died 1615. He was succeeded in 1616 by Pedro de Valencia, who died in 1631, blind and an octogenarian. The next Bishop, highly trained in law and literature, was Feliciano de la Vega, from 1628 Bishop of Popayán, who remained for only a year (1639) at the head of the diocese. He published the first synodal constitutions and died in 1640, ArchBishop of Mexico.

The Dominicans built their priory and the church of Saint Dominic after plans from 1609. The facade of Baroque style was worked entirely in stone from 1760. There is a square tower with a curved bell tower. The interior of the church - built in the 19th century - is remarkable for its neoclassical style.


Church of Saint Dominic in La Paz.


Bolivia 1994, Mi 1246, Sc 916.

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