Iglesia La Matriz

Iglesia La Matriz, Valparaiso

Iglesia La Matriz

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53 reviews
Very good

Nigel H
Harrogate, UK27 contributions
Simple Church
Feb. 2020 • Solo
The interior of this church is quite plain. For this I was grateful as I gate over elaborate churches and cathedrals. The simpler the more spiritual. Some of the South American cathedrals like Quito and Cusco are over elaborate. Note the octagonal tower. Some have commented on the area. It's nowhere bear as bad as those comments. The is a homeless hostel along the street, and the area is a bit dilapidated, but nothing to worry about.
Written 16 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Dan L
Bunbury, Australia5,089 contributions
Like a Rose in a bed of weeds
Apr. 2017 • Couples
Our tour bus was travelling through this area and suddenly this building appeared among the squalor and dereliction. It is located in the general port area with cobblestone streets and just outside the UNESCO heritage area. It was declared a National Historic Monument in 1971. The building seems to have architectural merit, it would have been great to spend some time but, alas, not to be; keep the bus moving.
Written 1 May 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Sde Eliezer, Israel5,203 contributions
Poorly maintained
Mar. 2017 • Couples
Inglesia La Matris is definitely one of the least attractive churches I've ever seen.
Very poorly maintained and full of drunks outside.

Avoid unless you are bored
Written 7 March 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

The World is My Oyster
Orlando, FL19,265 contributions
Very Nice Little Church!
Oct. 2016 • Friends
When I saw that church tucked in the neighborhood, I immediately told myself that this was one of the prettiest setting for a church in the town. That being said, it is in a pretty rough part of the city and need to be careful especially at night. Nonetheless, this was my favorite church in all of Valparaiso.
Written 15 October 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Coventry, UK932 contributions
Feb. 2016 • Friends
Example of one of the historical buildings in Valparaiso that I saw on a recent tour .Lovely to see it being used .
Written 22 February 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Vincent M
New Orleans, LA2,208 contributions
The Matriz Reloaded
May 2015 • Solo
In a seedy section of Valpo's port area, one block north of Plaza Echaurren along Castilo, if you brush off the beggars, step over the passed-out alcoholics and avoid the packs of feral dogs, you'll come to an insignificant little plazuela leading to the plain but nicely-proportioned facade of what appears to be a simple parish church. Bit of a fixer-upper, actually, with stains here, cracks there, and a tile or two missing from the roof. You wouldn't think to look at it, that this little church would be one of the more historic churches in the Western hemisphere, but it is. It's La Matriz.

There's an inherent ambiguity when discussing historic old churches: are you talking about a congregation or a building? For example, there's been a St-Martin-in-the-Fields under that name in the same spot in London since the Middle Ages, but the current building has only been around since the 18th century. Same here: there's been a Matriz right here since 1559, five years before Shakespeare was born. The current building only dates from the first half of the 19th century, and it's a miracle that it's even that old.

In 1578, as La Matriz's congregation was sitting around discussing what kind of fiesta they should hold for the 20th anniversary of the church, they were rudely interrupted. Very rudely. Sir Francis Drake looted the Church and stole their silver chalice, other church treasures and probably whatever he found in the alms box. The Spaniard conquistadores were horrified to hear that a European would actually steal an object that the locals believed to be holy, from their place of worship, just because it was made of gold or silver. Why, that sort of behavior was simply not done around here. To this day they think of Drake as a scurvy pirate (for example in the National Maritime Museum on top of
Artilleria). Personally I think they're too
hard on him. My theory is that Drake
was just trying to save the chalice when he noticed the church fire break out. Granted, he was the one who put it to the torch.

In the next 250 years, three more Matrizes succeeded the one Drake carbonized. Fire-proofing the church would have been a good idea--there were a number of other pirate attacks in the 16- and 1700s--but the technology wasn't available. This quarter-millenium was notable for the number of religious orders who succeeded one another in running the church. Augustinians, Franciscans, Sacred Hearters: pretty much everyone except the Dominicans. Bit of a hot potato, apparently. Finally the Jesuits wound up with it, just before the Great Earthquake.

Well, not the Great Great Earthquake, but a pretty bad one. In 1822 among the other results, the governor's palace collapsed, killing Bernardo O'Higgins. La Matrix was reduced to rubble.

It took 20 years to complete the next one, which is still standing despite an awful lot of hazards over the years. In 1866, a Spanish fleet bombarded Valparaiso, but spared the church. It survived a great fire in 1877 and the Great Valparaiso Earthquake in 1906 (the San Andreas Fault jolted in April, destroying San Francisco, the slips and jolts crept down the Pacific plate, triggering a quake in Valpo four months later: thick adobe walls saved historic buildings in both cities.). Since then it has toughed out major quakes in 1971 and 1985. The 2010 quake caused some damage, particularly to the bell tower. But La Matrix is a tough old bird, and just needs to tough it out another 43 years to make it to 500.

Note: no admission to go inside the church, The interior is relatively unadorned, but the lines are nice, with a simple barrel vault running above the nave. When I was there it was just me and two parishioners who came to pray. The quiet simplicity of La Matriz bespeaks a genuine spirituality that is more dignified in its way than, say, the over-the-top ostentatious display of vast amounts of gold and silver in Cusco's cathedral, (which was inland and two miles above sea level, well out of Sir Francis's reach.).

La Matrix is a Chilean National Monument and part of the Valparaiso UNESCO World Heritage Site. I give it a high rating for its historic importance as hallowed ground, not its art or architecture. St Peter's in Rome it ain't. But by the same token the hills of Verdun are nowhere near as spectacular as the French Alps. You're measuring different things.
Written 28 May 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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