Sanctuaries and Shrines in Santiago de Cuba

Photo Feature by Janis Hernandez

The Santa Teresa Catholic Church

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 14 — All large and small cities around the world have in their architectural environments both austere and elaborate buildings for religious worship, with these now forming a part of the cultural heritage of each locale.

The history of religions has been eternalized through constructed works.  Concerning this, Gilles Ivain noted in his book Formulary for a New Urbanism (1958):

“Architecture is the simplest way of articulating time and space, of modulating reality (…) Not only visual modulation, which is the expression of a temporal beauty, but also an influential modulation, which inscribes itself in the eternal curves of human desires and in the progress of realizing those desires.”

This is why today we have all kinds of styles, creating an eclectic panorama ranging from Byzantine, Arabic, and Gothic expressions, spanning through the Renaissance, baroque, and neo-classical, all the way to art nouveau and art deco – all as vestiges of religions (those sets of beliefs and ritual practices that individuals or groups have maintained for what they see as divine or sacred).

The El Calvario Pentecostal Temple

Throughout the history of humankind, people have built sites with this specific purpose.  This was how appeared the many ways of naming these structures, be they called sanctuaries, temples, shrines, synagogues, chapels, churches, basilicas, abbeys, etc.

These exist as sites where images or relics are venerated in the form of one or more saints (mostly in Catholic churches) or sites that are only for speaking and preaching (in Protestant churches and other religions).

My city of Santiago de Cuba and its vicinity also possess this evidence of the relationship of humanity with its faith.  Buildings of different and attractive architectural styles are erected here, defying time and each telling a story.

Santiago has more Catholic churches than any other type, and I believe this is common across the whole island.  These are followed in number by the churches of Protestant congregations, and then by a much shorter list of synagogues.

In downtown streets, in outlying districts, on a hill in the middle of a cay, in an outlying village, no matter where, any site was always appropriate for believers to erect their temples and sanctuaries.

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