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article imageChillán Cathedral — Tribute to victims of Chile’s deadliest quake Special

By Igor I. Solar     Jan 13, 2014 in World
The Cathedral of Chillán is a memorial to the 5,648 victims of the earthquake of 24 January 1939. The unique modernistic construction provides a bright setting full of symbolism honouring those who died that tragic night in the Chilean city of Chillán.
The city of Chillán in central Chile, about 400 kilometers south of Santiago, is now home to almost 176,000 inhabitants. Founded in 1580 under the name of “San Bartolomé de Chillán”, it's one of the oldest cities in Chile, and also one of the most unfortunate. Since its founding, the city was repeatedly attacked by the Mapuche natives, abandoned and rebuilt several times.
Throughout its 430-year history, Chillán has been hit by numerous earthquakes. The most devastating occurred in 1751, 1835, 1939 and 2010, causing enormous damage or completely destroying the city.
The 1939 Chillán earthquake occurred January 24 at 11:32 PM, had a magnitude of 8.3 Richter, and holds the record for the largest number of people killed in an earthquake in the history of Chile. The official death toll was 5,648 and about 30,000 people were injured. According to records of the era, by the end of the earthquake only three buildings remained standing in the entire city.
The old Cathedral of Chillán, built of lime and bricks, was until then one of the main buildings in the region. The church was completely destroyed by the earthquake. After the quake a new cathedral was designed in modernist style by architect Hernán Larraín Errazuriz, and built to withstand future earthquakes.
The Cathedral is a single-nave church with side walls and roof shaped by ten parabolic arches about ...
The Cathedral is a single-nave church with side walls and roof shaped by ten parabolic arches about 20 meters high, spaced five meters from each other. The 39-meter-high bell tower is separate from the church and has the shape of a cross.
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The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Bartholomew, patron of the city. It is a single-nave church with side walls and roof shaped by ten parabolic arches about 20 meters high, spaced five meters from each other. The archers represent prayer and the interweaving of the hands while praying. The oblique arrangement, linking the lower curve of each arch with the upper curve of the other, allows lighting inside the church through its entire 52-meter length.
The Cathedral of the Chilean city of Chillán  dedicated to St. Bartholomew  patron of the city.
The Cathedral of the Chilean city of Chillán, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, patron of the city.
The interior of the Cathedral of Chillán is simple and very bright due to the parabolic windows on ...
The interior of the Cathedral of Chillán is simple and very bright due to the parabolic windows on each one of the ten arches.
The 39-meter-high bell tower is separate from the church and has the shape of a cross. The monumental cross is pierced at its front and back sides with transparent lattice in the shape of a smaller cross inserted in the larger one. This opening illuminates the interior of the tower which has a stairway to access the bells located at its top.
Due to its special features, the Cathedral of Chillán is a monument to the victims of the earthquake of January 24, 1939, and is witness to the Catholic devotion in the promise of eternal life for those who died that tragic night in Chillán.
More about Chillan Cathedral, Chillan, Chile, Religious archtecture, Historical records
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