Sr. Lic. Ismael E. Betancourt

Sr. Lic. Ismael E. Betancourt

Director of Diario Crónica,


Mr. Principal:

I have come to know, with concern, that they want to overthrow the long wall of the colonial convent of Las Conceptas in Loja to build a shopping center there, apparently. This convent, which was restored by my father, Eduardo Mora Moreno, when he was mayor of Loja, is, together with the Rosario chapel (in Santo Domingo) and the El Valle church (now modified), one of the few old buildings and Hispanics that our city houses, after greed, bad taste and ignorance destroyed a large part of the colonial legacy that Loja possessed.

In 1858 an earthquake brought down the towers of San Francisco and affected the church of San Agustín and this last church suffered cracks and damage, so that in 1901 the third bishop of the town had what was left of it demolished and its altars sold. to a Chilean merchant, and thus the old altarpieces, covered with gold leaf, and surely the images and the pulpit, ended up in a southern estate. In this regard, it is said that the walls of that old church, the most valuable of the baroque art that Loja housed, were so strong that, despite the earthquake, the workers or, better, the destroyers of the work, had to use dynamite to blow up its walls and leaving there, until now, a squalid square without the slightest sense of aesthetics. Which shows that the then bishop Carlos María de la Torre, so famous without reason, made a wrong decision, to say the least. To complete the destruction, the seventh bishop of Loja, Luis Alfonso Crespo, supporting a “modernizing” tendency of a lamentable mayor of Loja, who replaced the small cobblestones in the center with clumsy asphalt and made disproportionate sidewalks, continued with that “progressive” mania. and he authorized the demolition of other buildings that seemed old to him. First, the house of Don Alonso de Mercadillo, the founder of the city, was destroyed, a house that, due to successive donations, had become the Episcopal Palace and an ugly reinforced concrete “shopping center” that we see up to now, was built there. Later, the colonial houses of the historian Don Julio Ojeda were allowed to be overthrown, and perhaps the most valuable, that of the Torres family, which overlooked a corner of the main square, and I don’t know if the bishop, or the two of them consumption, they also sold the church and tower of the Conceptas Nuns, which I was still able to see and which were destroyed to erect the horrible and vulgar building of any bank… The Monastery and Church of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves had been founded in 1597 by the governor Don Juan de Alderete and Sister María de Orosco, from the Monastery of Conceptas in Quito. The construction had been in charge of the Spanish architect Pedro Pacheco. The church was simple and of noble architecture. Sober, with large beams, in the background, between the immaculate white walls, was a light blue and gold altar, with Renaissance finishes. To the right were the blue bars of the choir. The floor was made up of large hexagonal red bricks, the work of potters from the town of Cera, where there is a clay of wonderful red tones. Huge benches leaned against the walls on the sides of the nave. The church had a corner tower, with pointed windows, which overlooked the main square of the city. Alderete himself, several founders of the city and Don Juan de Salinas Loyola, founder of six Amazonian cities: Valladolid, Logroño, Borja, Sevilla del Oro, Santa María de Nieva and Santiago de las Montañas, were buried in this tower.

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I should not omit also that a bishop named Hugolino, from the coast, “rebuilt” the cathedral, the truth is that it was said that only to search for the treasure that would have been buried along with the remains of Bishop Checa. By the way, it seems that some Caspicara sculptures were sold… And there is the “renovated” cathedral, now with recent altars, without historical value, made in San Antonio de Ibarra…

That now the commercial desires of some people want to tear down the walls and part of the Conceptas convent is another outrage that would only complete the destruction started by other small minds.

I beg you, Mr. Director, to publish this letter and I ask the new mayor of Loja to arbitrate the measures in the case to prevent such an outrage against the history and architecture of the city we love.

Very truly yours,

Emb. Your Eduardo Mora.

Member of the Ecuadorian Academy of Language and correspondent of the Argentine Academy of History.

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