Among the first churches that the Franciscan Order founded in Venezuela, the original church at Coro was part of the Convent of Nuestra Señora de la Salceda, founded in 1614. After a major fire in the early 18th century, the church was rebuilt in the 1720s and underwent several renovations throughout the 19th century. The convent complex was later converted into a school. The church displayed signs of deterioration, including cracks in walls, arches, and floors. The general maintenance issues and conservation needs were exacerbated by flood damage during the winter of 2000.
1998 and 2000 World Monuments Watch
San Francisco Church was included in the 1998 and 2000 Watch lists. Through support from American Express, WMF assisted the Venezuelan Institute of Cultural Patrimony in the restoration of the church’s wooden polychrome vault in the Capilla del Evangelio del Templo, one of the oldest chapels in the complex, dating to the first half of the 17th century. Long-term plans for the site include evaluation of environmental controls in the museum and the complete restoration of the roof and interiors.
Although the church has been rebuilt and modified over the centuries, as one of the first Venezuelan Franciscan Order churches, it is a key colonial structure in the city. Its surviving architectural details, including a polychrome wooden vault, are important examples of the region’s architectural styles. The site is also known to contain important archaeological remains. San Francisco Church is located along one of the streets, which inspired the inscription of Coro’s historic district on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The restoration was coordinated by the Institute of Cultural Patrimony and served as a training opportunity for conservation students.