2012 World Monuments Watch
The Parish Church of San Juan Bautista, located in the heart of Remedios, is composed of the main church of San Juan Bautista and a chapel, the Ermita del Buenviaje. The two religious structures are magnificent examples of Spanish colonial architecture in the Caribbean. The history of the main church dates to the late sixteenth century, but its current architectural core was constructed in the first half of the eighteenth century in a Moorish Renaissance style with baroque features. It is renowned for its polychrome coffered ceiling and gilded altar. The neoclassical bell tower was added in 1850, and the second level of the sacristy was an early-twentieth-century addition. The Ermita del Buenviaje is a single-nave Neoclassical chapel with a bell tower that reflects Moorish and Spanish influences. A chapel occupied the site as early as the sixteenth century, but the current design dates to 1819 and was rebuilt in 1867 after a fire.
The main church was declared a National Monument in 1949, and the same designation was extended to the entire town of Remedios in 1980. The bell towers of both the church and the chapel define the landscape of this historic urban center. The Christmastime festivities, called Parrandas, are emblematic of the enduring community connection to this religious complex. However, deferred maintenance and severe weather have led to rainwater leakage, progressive deterioration, and structural instability in both the main church and the chapel. Ermita del Buenviaje was deemed unsafe and has been closed since 2000. The site was included on the 2012 World Monuments Watch as a plan for its long-term stewardship was needed to ensure the future of the buildings and their role in the community.
At the Parish Church of Remedios, Watch Day took place in September 2012 and included a two-day workshop in which heritage experts discussed the preservation and sustainability of the site. Activities for younger residents included a drawing contest, the viewing of an exhibition on the 2012 Watch, and guided tours of the church.
Since the Watch
In October 2011, the Fundación Amistad organized a site visit to meet local stakeholders, assess the building’s condition, and make recommendations for its restoration. Shortly after Watch Day in the fall of 2012, the local community provided funds and labor for a restoration project. The roof of the Ermita del Buenviaje was repaired and its interior and garden were cleaned. By January 2013 painting, cleaning, and maintenance had been carried out at the main church. A celebration of the city’s heritage took place in June 2015.