Visit the Grand San German de Auxerre
An hours drive out of Ponce, lies the town of San German. It is as if the entire town should be preserved in a museum, as it is filled with historical architectural masterpieces and monuments that confirm that San German is one of the oldest towns in Puerto Rico today. It was originally founded in the year 1512. After being rebuilt in 1570, following the destruction and devastation left behind by the French, it became a haven for pirates, poets, politicians and smugglers and was named in honor of King Ferdinand of Spain’s second wife, Germain de Foix. One of the noteworthy buildings of the time, that has survived, is the San German de Auxerre.
The San German de Auxerre has battled some difficult times. When looking at the intimidating building at the end of the main plaza, known as the Plaza Francisco Mariano Quinones, the structure overwhelms onlookers with its sheer size and grandeur. Several different building styles can be seen in the building due to various extensions and additions added in later years.
The original building was constructed in 1573. It was designed in a Spanish Baroque style and consisted of only a chapel and a thatch roof. In 1688 the cathedral underwent a range of reconstruction activities, and in 1737 restoration and repairs were done to combat the damage left by an earthquake. By this time, San German de Auxerre had three chapels, ten altars and no less than three naves. In 1866, San German imported a magnificent rock crystal chandelier to adorn the central area of the ceiling; the biggest of its kind in the entire Caribbean. Another unfortunate earthquake rocked Puerto Rico in 1918, and after more restoration work was done to the cathedral, a belfry was added in 1939. After all the necessary restoration and rebuilding that was done to save the buildings from natural disasters, a flowing mix of neoclassical, baroque and colonial architecture can be seen throughout the cathedral. One of the most impressive features of the cathedral is the painting on the ceiling, the trompe l’oeil, and the new stained glass panes that were inserted in the 1999 restoration of the cathedral.
As attractions in Puerto Rico go, the San German de Auxerre is an extremely beautiful work of art. Its lavish décor and stylish design make this building stand out amongst the other attractions and sights in San German. Visitors should ensure that they remember to stop in at this historical landmark when visiting the city.