Convento de San José (Oaxaca)

One day, while wandering around the city of Oaxaca, I accidently walked into a building that probably was supposed to have been closed. In fact, it was empty due to the Christmas holidays, but I think someone forgot to lock the door. Little ole me saw this cool looking building, tried the door, found it unlocked, and determined that it must be okay to take a look. As I explored, I wondered more and more…where was everybody? It was dead quiet. I couldn’t quite figure out what this place was – it was a colonial building that seemed vaguely religious but it was also defaced (so I thought at the time) by graffiti. I explored for a bit and took a bunch of photos because the place appealed to me despite not knowing where I was. It was only after I got back to Canada and did some research that I finally figured out that the building in which I wandered was the ex-Convento de San José.

This convent was founded in 1595 by Jesuits but has a history of re-building because of earthquakes. The current building that I visited was built in the early 1700s. The original occupants of the convent were nuns from the Capuchin order so they were called Capuchinas – I wonder if they have any relation to the coffee? Anyway, in 1893, the convent was turned into an asylum for orphans and the elderly. Today, it is an art school! La Escuela de Bellas Artes (School of Fine Arts) has been run by the Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca since 1950. Which explains the graffiti artwork all over the place.

Wandering around this deserted building was a little stressful – I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to be in there or not but at the same time, the place was so neat that I didn’t want to leave! I loved the graffiti scattered all around the walls, some artistic and some just plain weird. I think what made it so fun was the unexpectedness of it. I guess there is something to be said for leaving room in a travel itinerary for random exploration!


Location: Near the Plaza De la Danza, between Independence Avenue and Morelos Street in the Historic Centre of the City of Oaxaca.

Have you ever found something totally random in your travels?

7 responses to “Convento de San José (Oaxaca)

  1. I have been to many of the same places that you have, so I enjoy your blog very much. I believe the convent of San Jose was closed for renovation when I was there several years ago. There is also an inddor market nearby, if I’m not mistaken.

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying it! Thanks for coming by 🙂 That’s too bad that San Jose was closed – I hope they don’t get rid of the artwork!

  2. We have an established pattern of behaviour here! Entering art schools without permission! Jumping church fences on the Camino?! Obviously you are a criminal menace in the making! 😉

    Seriously though, I can see how nerve-wracking yet exciting wandering a place like this would be! I love the courtyard and the graffiti is somewhere between ‘odd’ and ‘amazing’. I’m curious about the art school, do they stay in the cloister’s rooms? Have they ever produced a famous artist? It would be interesting to find out.

    Oh! And I was curious about the Capuchinas/cappuccino connection and found this on Wikipedia:

    A cappuccino (/ˌkæpəˈtʃiːnoʊ/; Italian pronunciation: [kapputˈtʃiːno]) is an Italian coffee drink which is traditionally prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed-milk foam. The name comes from the Capuchin friars, referring to the colour of their habits,

    • huh! awesome re cappuccino! haha, tha’s for finding that out for me!

      oh and yep, I’ve obviously missed my calling as a criminal mastermind…

  3. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge – Shadowed | Rusty Travel Trunk·

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