San Salvador de Bayamo Church, witness to great events

San Salvador de Bayamo Church, witness to great events

Heritage & Traditions

By Colette Laforet

The San Salvador de Bayamo Church is a religious site located in that municipality of the eastern province of Granma, built in 1516 and declared a cathedral in the 20th century.

This colonial-style construction is formed by a nave and a three-section bell tower, topped by a dome, next to which is the Chapel of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, dating from 1720. 

Archaeological studies carried out in San Salvador de Bayamo Church corroborate that it is one of the first founded in the country. It is located in the Plaza del Himno, in the same place where the aboriginal chiefdom of Bayamo was located, which the Spanish destroyed upon their arrival.

On November 8, 1868, the flag raised by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes was blessed in that place during the rising of "La Demajagua", a ceremony directed by Father Diego José Baptista, on which occasion the "Hymn of Bayamo”, current National Anthem, was performed by a choir made up of twelve daughters of Bayamo patriots, six black and six white.

From that legendary temple, year after year, the Procession of the Virgin of Dolores departs, one of the most beautiful cultural traditions of Bayamo.

In its spaces there have been significant events of the locality, such as religious ceremonies for internationalist combatants who have fallen in the line of duty in other countries. Over the years, restoration work has been undertaken given the age of the property.

The most recent took place in 2004, when a capital repair of the Chapel of Dolores was undertaken, including a structure of floors, walls and ceiling, altar and facade. The restoration of the large mural located on the main altar was also completed, as well as work on other murals on the sides.