The Watch

San Miguel Arcángel and Santa Cruz de Roma Churches

Panchimalco and Huizucar, El Salvador

2004 and 2006 World Monuments Watch

The eighteenth-century adobe churches of San Miguel Arcángel in Huizucar and Santa Cruz de Roma in Panchimalco are among the few surviving buildings of the colonial era in El Salvador. While rather humble on their exteriors, the sanctuaries house exquisite Baroque wooden altarpieces and coffered wooden ceilings of a type seen in Andalusian mudíjar buildings of the period in Spain. In the 1970s, both churches were declared national monuments. Although time had taken its toll on the buildings since their construction, most of the damage was wrought by earthquakes that struck the region in early 2001. Following the earthquakes, the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y el Arte, which oversees the sites, surveyed the damage and undertook emergency repairs. A lack of economic resources, however, has hindered the development of a conservation program for the sites as well as efforts to protect the buildings from further degradation. Technical assistance and financial support are critical to preserving these sacred spaces.

Since the Watch

Emergency repairs were undertaken in San Miguel Arcángel in Huizúcar as early as 2002, shortly after the 2001 El Salvador Earthquakes. Santa Cruz de Roma in Panchimalco was also repaired, with the help of local donors. Architectural conservation work has been undertaken on the floor, side altars, and on exterior sculpture. As a way to promote the appreciation of cultural heritage, the municipality of Panchimalco has introduced a monthly evening tour of monuments including the church of Santa Cruz de Roma. Both Huizúcar and Panchimalco have suffered from looting of religious art in recent years, which has prompted greater vigilance and monitoring by local community members. December 2010

Join us in keeping watch over mankind’s greatest achievements, and support this call to action.