The Iglesia and Fuerte Santa Bárbara
, located in the Colonial Zone, has been in the process of being restored for many years. Finally, the work is getting the attention it deserves and is proceeding rapidly with some amazing discoveries.
The Iglesia de Santa Bárbara was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990. It is also the place where one of the founding fathers of Dominican Republic, Juan Pablo Duarte was baptized in 1813, the same year he was born. Learn more history of the Iglesia y El Fuerte de Santa Bárbara / Church and Fort of Santa Barbara.
The renovation has been ongoing. Juan Gilberto Núñez, the man who designed and directed the whole project of restoration of the Church, states that the severe deterioration of the structure has caused the restoration work to proceed slowly. He states that restoring is not remodeling. The walls of the structure are more than 500 years old. The stones were held in place by their own weight not by mortar and rebar. This makes the restoration process very delicate and time consuming.
Juan Gilberto Núñez and the workers are making some amazing discoveries.
“The whole courtyard of the square is a cemetery,” Núñez said. “Wherever we make a hole, we find skeletons,” he added, while brigades of workers worked at full capacity in the outer area, and inside, teams of young engineers and architects devoted themselves to their task.
There is a cemetery under the courtyard most likely from the sixteenth century. There are large amounts of bones whose identities have not yet established. Also, remains have been found embedded in the walls of the church.
The presence of bones in the walls of the church of Santa Bárbara is thought to be because when the vaults got full with human remains they were exhumed and moved to make room for other corpses.
They found Cemetery crypts with dozens of tombs in the basement of the church. The plan for these burial chambers in the basement of the temple is to cover the openings with glass and illuminate them so that people can see the entrances.
There are 3 teams of work crews working non-stop dedicated to the complete restoration of the Iglesia and the surrounding grounds and walls. We are looking forward to the time it is open to the public again. The view from the shooting platform of the fort is really beautiful.
Learn more history of the Iglesia y El Fuerte de Santa Bárbara / Church and Fort of Santa Barbara.