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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Religious monuments at risk: they urge the State to recover historic temples and those in danger from earthquakes

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A nest of buzzards. This is what the wooden ceiling of the Hermitage of Barranco, the small temple with a yellow facade that is located at one end of the famous Bridge of Sighs and that is supposed to be part of the tourist attractions of the district. The state of this church is so critical that for several years various national and international groups and organizations have asked for its urgent intervention.

During a city tour, Trade found that this situation is repeated in many temples, some more affected than others. For example, the Santa Ana church, located at the intersection of the Huanta and Huallaga shreds, in Barrios Altos, has a very worn façade, as well as a dirty roof and dome, with serious damage and cracks.

The deterioration and abandonment of these temples, not only in Lima, but also in the rest of the country, it occurs despite the existence of regulations that guarantee the conservation, protection and care of these structures. Two of these guidelines are the General Law of Cultural Heritage of the Nation (28296) and Technical Standard A.140, on immovable cultural property of the National Building Regulations.

The Santa Ana church, in Jirón Huanta, has several cracks on its facade and roof.  Urge intervention.  (Photo: César Campos)
The Santa Ana church, in Jirón Huanta, has several cracks on its facade and roof. Urge intervention. (Photo: César Campos)

In this regard, André Nery, dean of Architecture and Urbanism at the Southern Scientific University, commented that these norms establish that it is the State, through the Ministry of Culture (Mincul), the person in charge of taking care of the properties that have the category of monumental value. However, he specified that if the affected church is not considered a monument or cultural heritage, there are ways that can be taken so that it is the State in the same way that assumes the initiative and responsibility to intervene in the property.

The inclusion of the temple to the list of heritage monuments and link it to the Mincul, although if it does not work out, strategies can also be generated at the regional and municipal level to restore the property. In other words, the State can and must play an important role in the interventionNery said.

He added that while the temples They are a private asset, owned by the churchThey are for public use and are part of our identity and culture as a country. “For this reason, the Government should give priority to their care; however, it does not, ”he remarked.

The expert detailed that a report from the Mincul, published in January of this year, (“Diagnosis of gaps in infrastructure or access to services in the Culture sector”), indicates that of 1,581 monuments from the viceregal and republican period that exist in Peru, more than 800 are religious buildings. “That gives us an idea of ​​how important religious monuments are to the country. In other words, about 60% of the national heritage are churches”, He commented.

Symbolic value

For the architect Patricia Díaz, president of the Heritage Commission of the Lima Regional College of Architects, the churchesApart from being meeting places and where a religious fervor develops, they are buildings that give meaning to the area where they are located.

People identify a lot with their temples. Hence, they are an important symbol not only architecturally, but also culturally. For example, many of them keep artistic pieces made by hand by the parishioners themselves.”, He explained.

A total of 810 churches in the country have been declared historical monuments, which are the private property of the Catholic Church.  (Photo: César Campos)
A total of 810 churches in the country have been declared historical monuments, which are the private property of the Catholic Church. (Photo: César Campos)

Added that some temples they are born from the creative and architectural production of each town. “Hence the importance of maintaining its architecture and identity.”, He highlighted.

He argued that, despite the calls to conserve religious structures are the church, the State and the municipalities, many times it is the same population that really takes care of these spaces. “Lack of funds. The church much money does not have for the recovery of temples. The state should support much more. Give priority to other topics. Lately, regional governments have been doing it more, elaborating projects with the endorsement of the Mincul”Said Díaz.

Restoration

Interventions in a church or temple they can go from conservation (in a building that is basically in good condition) to demolition. Between these two extremes are the restoration, remodeling, partial reconstruction and other types of interventions that must be adequately valued depending on the state of the property.

Likewise, the level of resistance of the property to an earthquake must be considered. Enrique Bonilla, director of the Architecture program at the University of Lima, specified that the earthquake-resistant design has been changing. For example, he argued that in older architectures, these considerations generally do not exist.

An assessment must also be made from the heritage point of view, which means the ability to recover the structure. In addition, another evaluation is made from the cultural point of view, since the temples they normally have a high symbolic value for the community. After this, the recovery project is elaborated”, He detailed.

Bonilla also highlighted the importance that the conditions of the property are not altered during the intervention, but that, as far as possible, its originality is maintained. For this, materials compatible with the original design must be used. Perhaps not the same, but they do share the same characteristics, such as chemical composition, for example.

It is desirable for structures, as well as that they go through a process that makes them more resistant to earthquakes, that they are safe”He added.

Master plan

As part of the execution of the Master Plan for the Historic Center of Lima (CHL), the Municipality of Lima, through Prolima, executes a project to recover and enhance the façade of 13 temples, which are also historical monuments. . To date, the restoration of the churches from Copacabana (Rímac), Recoleta (Plaza Francia) and Santa Rosa de los Padres (Santuario Santa Rosa).

Currently, the first phase of recovery of the church of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, in the Center of Lima, is being carried out.  To recover a historic property, the layers of paint that hide the original finishes are first removed.  (Photo: César Campos)
Currently, the first phase of recovery of the church of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, in the Center of Lima, is being carried out. To recover a historic property, the layers of paint that hide the original finishes are first removed. (Photo: César Campos)

Prolima pointed out that the first step for the recovery of real estate is the preparation of a technical file, which includes a historical-artistic study and a recovery proposal. This document is sent to Mincul, which reviews it and makes the respective observations.

Experts pointed out that this is an example of management to be able to intervene a part of the temples, although it is the duty of the State to complete the work inside the buildings.

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