PHOTOS: Puerto Rico to reopen historic church after long restoration | Hindustan Times
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PHOTOS: Puerto Rico to reopen historic church after long restoration

Updated On Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

The construction worker stood on his tiptoes and tried to arrange a crown of thorns on a statue of Jesus while architect Jorge Rigau fired a flurry of directions from beneath the ladder. “Grab it like this and move it just a bit,” he said, motioning with his fingers. “Move it to the right, but don't lower it.” It was one of the final touches on a detailed restoration of the second oldest surviving Spanish church in the Americas, whose construction had begun by 1532 on land donated by famous explorer Juan Ponce de León and whose base was erected atop an Indigenous settlement. The church was built for a Dominican convent where the renowned Spanish priest Bartolomé de las Casas once lived, served as shelter during an attack by the Indigenous Taínos, became Puerto Rico's first high school and was damaged by a cannonball during the 1898 Spanish-American War in which Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. But the San José Church — surpassed in age only by the Spanish cathedral in the neighboring Dominican Republic — was shuttered in 1996 due to serious deterioration. San Juan's own cathedral dates to 1521, but the original wooden building was destroyed and the current structure dates to 1540.

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The San Jose Church stands in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The second oldest Spanish church in the Americas is reopening following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete. (AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

The San Jose Church stands in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The second oldest Spanish church in the Americas is reopening following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete. (AP)

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The entrance to a crypt stands in the middle of the altar inside the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, the San Jose Church, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. “We let the church talk to you,” said architect Jorge Rigau, adding that people “will find witnesses, ghosts, memories, scars.” (AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

The entrance to a crypt stands in the middle of the altar inside the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, the San Jose Church, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. “We let the church talk to you,” said architect Jorge Rigau, adding that people “will find witnesses, ghosts, memories, scars.” (AP)

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Architect Jorge Rigau arranges a crown of thorns on a statue of Jesus inside the San Jose Church, the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. (AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

Architect Jorge Rigau arranges a crown of thorns on a statue of Jesus inside the San Jose Church, the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. (AP)

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Details of a centuries-old mural are preserved inside San Jose Church, the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, which will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. As workers probed with radar and laser technology and physically peeled away the church’s layers, they uncovered (AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

Details of a centuries-old mural are preserved inside San Jose Church, the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, which will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. As workers probed with radar and laser technology and physically peeled away the church’s layers, they uncovered (AP)

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An altarpiece shows religious figures inside the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, the San Jose Church, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. All the figures depicted on the church’s gilded altar have been identified except for one: a woman with flaxen hair in the upper left-hand corner holding a palm frond, which indicates she was a martyr but offers no other clues. (AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

An altarpiece shows religious figures inside the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, the San Jose Church, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. All the figures depicted on the church’s gilded altar have been identified except for one: a woman with flaxen hair in the upper left-hand corner holding a palm frond, which indicates she was a martyr but offers no other clues. (AP)

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The midday sun rises over the facade of the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, the San Jose Church, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The church was built for a Dominican convent, served as a shelter during an attack by the Indigenous Taínos, became Puerto Rico’s first high school and was damaged by a cannonball during the 1898 Spanish-American War in which Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S.(AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

The midday sun rises over the facade of the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, the San Jose Church, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The church was built for a Dominican convent, served as a shelter during an attack by the Indigenous Taínos, became Puerto Rico’s first high school and was damaged by a cannonball during the 1898 Spanish-American War in which Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S.(AP)

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Monsignor Roberto González, the archbishop of San Juan, points as he and businessman Ricardo Gonzalez stand inside the San Jose Church after its reconstruction in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The $11 million restorations became a personal project for González that took nearly two decades to complete. (AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

Monsignor Roberto González, the archbishop of San Juan, points as he and businessman Ricardo Gonzalez stand inside the San Jose Church after its reconstruction in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The $11 million restorations became a personal project for González that took nearly two decades to complete. (AP)

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Pews stand in the San Jose Church as it reopens after reconstrution in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The second oldest in age only to the Spanish cathedral in the neighboring Dominican Republic, it was shuttered in 1996 due to serious deterioration. (AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

Pews stand in the San Jose Church as it reopens after reconstrution in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The second oldest in age only to the Spanish cathedral in the neighboring Dominican Republic, it was shuttered in 1996 due to serious deterioration. (AP)

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The San Jose Church, the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, stands in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Following massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, the 16th-century church officially reopens on March 19. (AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

The San Jose Church, the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, stands in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Following massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, the 16th-century church officially reopens on March 19. (AP)

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Religious sculptures are inside the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, the San Jose Church, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Experts were hired from abroad to restore murals and other art. (AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

Religious sculptures are inside the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, the San Jose Church, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Experts were hired from abroad to restore murals and other art. (AP)

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Workers set up a bench inside the San Jose Church, the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, that will reopen following massive reconstruction that has taken nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The church was built for a Dominican convent where the renowned Spanish priest Bartolomé de las Casas once lived.(AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

Workers set up a bench inside the San Jose Church, the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, that will reopen following massive reconstruction that has taken nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The church was built for a Dominican convent where the renowned Spanish priest Bartolomé de las Casas once lived.(AP)

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A wall's original construction elements are exposed where a modern sculpture stands inside the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, the San Jose Church, that will reopen following reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The church’s history was intentionally left exposed in some areas as part of the restoration. (AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

A wall's original construction elements are exposed where a modern sculpture stands inside the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, the San Jose Church, that will reopen following reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The church’s history was intentionally left exposed in some areas as part of the restoration. (AP)

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A stained glass window stands inside the San Jose Church, the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. It was a project many in Puerto Rico thought would fail given the never-ending funding problems. (AP) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST

A stained glass window stands inside the San Jose Church, the second oldest Spanish church in the Americas, that will reopen following a massive reconstruction that took nearly two decades to complete in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. It was a project many in Puerto Rico thought would fail given the never-ending funding problems. (AP)

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