School trip

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Fri 6 Jul 2012 22:49
School Trip
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We attended our lessons this morning and realised after lunch how tired we were, just two days at school and our brains are fried. How pleased are we that Friday afternoons are a planned field trip, each student bimbles along with their teacher and chatters in Spanish or not........ We walked past the tourists favourite photo op and through Central Park to an area of town we haven’t explored yet.
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Union Water Tank: We stopped at one of the cities ‘laundries’. Only the very rich had maids and the facilities for their washing to be done. Ordinary folk used the public laundries, not only to wash their clothes; but to socialise and keep up with all the local gossip. Technically, this facility can still be used, was inaugurated in 1853 by the chief magistrate José María Palomo and was renovated in 1979. The arches are of Neoclassic style. The original name of the area was Plaza de la Union, but in 1925 the Unionist Congress of Central America changed the name to Union Park and Tank.

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There are many ruins in this area of the city, we entered an impressive archway



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San Francsico el Grande is one of the most frequented sanctuaries by the local population because of the shrine of Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur (Santo Hermano Pedro). 



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The monastery ruins next to the church were once a massive structure


History: When Franciscan missionaries arrived in Guatemala from Spain in 1530 they were assigned 120 villages by the civil authorities. They were the first to move to the Panchoy Valley in 1541 where they built a church at the site of today's School of Christ (Escuela de Cristo). This chapel was severely damaged in 1565 and during the next ten years donations were collected to build a new sanctuary two blocks away in 1579. Parts of this construction, maybe the only ones in Antigua which date back to the 16th century. San Francisco el Grande became a significant religious and cultural centre for the whole region. Theology, law, philosophy, physics and mathematics were taught at San Buenaventury College, in today's monastery ruins. The college also favoured painters of the colonial era such as Cristóbal de Villalpando, Thomas de Merbo and Abonzo de la Paz.

The chapel and cloister were expanded during the 17th century. In 1684 the structure was reinforced and withstood the earthquake of 1691. The church itself was built by Diego de Porres and inaugurated in 1702. The 1717 earthquake damaged the structure severely. So did the earthquake of 1751. The site was partly destroyed during the 1773 earthquake and has been reconstructed in parts but areas of ruin still remain. The fountain of the main corridor was taken to La Merced's atrium in 1944. The colonial image of the Virgin that stood behind the main altar fell down during the 1976 earthquake.


Architecture: Its facade, with twisted salomonic columns, is typical of the Spanish-American baroque era and is similar to that of San José Cathedral. It has sixteen vaulted niches, each but the lowest two contain a saint or a friar. These include the Virgin Mary, San Diego de Alcalá, San Antonio de Padua, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Clara, Santiago and Santa Isabel from Hungary. At the entrance of the monastery there are murals featuring images of Franciscans friars with a skeleton. The bell and clock towers from the 17th and 19th centuries remain in ruins.

The altarpieces inside the church were richly decorated with painting and sculptures of famous contemporary artists.The church marks the beginning of the Calle los Pasos (Steps Street) which holds the Stations of the Cross (see below).



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We bimbled around the ruins in the hot sun (sorry to mention the heat and lack of rain)



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Bear even did his ‘trouser ceremony’ for the class.



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Evidence of restoration as we walked over this enormous site



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The huge kitchen, a little worrying to see an active termite nest above a wooden cross-beam support. We saw the ‘secret tunnel’. This was used to slip wine in to the monastery and for the monks to ‘slope off in to town to visit the ladies of the night.......



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‘Evidence’ of San Pedro’s favours and cures. We visited the museum dedicated to him.



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Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur – San Pedro, was beatified 1980, canonised in 2002 (by Pope John Paul II), and enshrined in a tomb off the main chapel here in the church, San Francsico el Grande. His tomb is visited by thousands of pilgrims each year to beg for favours and miracles. All the evidence and the process to his sainthood is laid out in the museum. Critics have questioned the depth of research that went in to his two assigned miracles. Some say Pope John Paul II wanted to create the first saint in Guatemala as well as the unpopular creation of many saints he canonised in China.

Whatever, San Pedro did much for the people.



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San Pedro’s memorial garden, statue and close up.


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On our way back to school we walked past the life-size Stations of the Cross used in the Easter Parade the city is famous for. Sad that these amazing ‘floats’ are exposed to the elements, they are all incredibly detailed and a sight to behold.

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How chuffed was I when we saw a ‘bug’. Time for our daily ice cream.