Church of St. Nicholas Bishop of Mira, Resume
Just 18 km from the capital, the municipality of Tonacatepeque is a town rich in history, which preserves important cultural elements that are evident in their customs and architecture.
Such is the case of the temple erected in honor of St. Nicholas Bishop of Mira that is originally from the colonial era.
Tonacatepeque was a Pipil settlement, but after the Spanish conquest the territory was renamed as “San Nicolás Tonacatepeque” in the year of 1560. The first settlement was abandoned and became known as Pueblo Viejo.
It is said that the Franciscan order undertook the task of teaching Catholicism to the natives, and in return the natives built the temple.
At Tonacatepeque there is a legend that the patrons image disappeared from a chapel at a place called San Juan Tonacatepeque. The locals were very devoted to this image and started searching for it, finally finding at the base of a large Ceiba (a tree that it’s sacred to the natives). When they tried to lift the image, it was very heavy. Other efforts where not successful, the image remained underneath the tree, and thus a pilgrimage started at the site. After some time locals started building huts around it, and later the colonial church that we see today.
The church stands out among the traditional houses of this little town.
This building has survived the inclement weather and time, since it was constructed with a solid masonry base, thick adobe walls, and in some parts “bahareque” walls made of mud reinforced with bamboo, a very old building style and craftsmanship.
The interior wood roof, pillars and decorations show eclectic style with classical Greek and Roman influences. You can also see religious imagery displayed at the wood “retablos” on the sidewalls and corridors.
The temple is located just across the Central Park José María Villafañe. There is also a statue in honor of the renowned priest Nicolás Aguilar, a native of Tonacatepeque, who played a major role in the independence movement of Central America in the eighteenth century.
According to Catholic tradition, Bishop Saint Nicholas is known as “protector and defender of the people.” At Tonacatepeque he is celebrated on December first to the 6th every year.
This town also has some other festivities like the one dedicated to martyr San Juan Bautista, from the 26th to 29th of August and other patrons as well.
St. Nicholas Parish Bishop: (503) 2322-0226
Municipality of Tonacatepeque: (503) 2325-8210
House of Culture Tonacatepeque: (503) 2322-0302
Websites of interest:
How to get there
From San Salvador you may drive along the Pan-American Highway towards Tonacatepeque. Follow the road signs to San José Guayabal, near San Martín. Access to the road is both from San José Guayabal and through Altavista Colonia at Soyapango.
Bus route: 115 or 88 bus from the Parque San José, at downtown San Salvador. You may also route 190 from San Martin. Cost is US$ 0.40.
Altitude 2026 feet
N 13 ° 46,794 ‘
In 89 ° 07,066 ‘
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