This churche belongs to dominicos priests, one of the first religious Orders that arrived in Chile
in the 16th century. Its history is marked by several reconstructions on account of different earthquakes and fires that made rebuilding necessary on repeated occasions.
The church as it stands today is not the original one. The first construction was erected in 1557, but the earthquake of 1595 destroyed it completely. Subsequent constructions had the same misfortune, until in 1747 works commenced on the current church.
Thursday is the day when the largest number of parishioners, devotees of Our Lady of Pompeii, goes to the church.
The Church of Santo Domingo was declared a National Monument in 1951.
In 1557, the King of Spain granted to the Order of the Dominicans the land located on the north side of Plaza de Armas, where they built the first church, which was torn down by the earthquake of 1595. A further three buildings were built in the 17th and 18th centuries, but they were also affected by strong seismic movements.
The church as it stands today was built in 1747. Master stonemason Juan de los Santos Vasconcellos was the architect commissioned to do the works, along with Manuel Caballero and a group of Portuguese stonemasons especially contracted to work the Cerro Blanco stones with which the church was erected.
Between 1775 and 1779, Joaquín Toesca took charge of the work, completing the façades and interiors. Using his bare hands, he himself board lined the church ceiling and kept to the original design of the building, respecting the idea of the initial project.
The church was finally inaugurated in 1808, when its two splendid towers were erected. Slightly over eight decades later and following a fire, the interior of the building was altered with the installation of a false wooden vaulted ceiling under the nave beams.
In 1963, another fire destroyed historical and artistic relics inside the church. The building was spared thanks to its thick stone walls.
With the earthquake of 1985, the last to occur in the 20th century, the church underwent some damage that led to its temporary closure.
The church is in neo-classical style, exhibiting baroque elements and archivolts with a clearly American hallmark. Highlights on its main façade include the niches with statues depicting the Dominicans Saint Pius V and Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Rose of Lima. The building is crowned by three statues: that of Our Lady of the Rosary in the center and those of Saint Francis and Saint Domingo on the sides. These seven images were carved by sculptor Carlucci in 1878.
An inscription on the frontispiece reads, Hic est domus Domini firmiter aedificata. Anno Domini 1808 (This is the House of the Lord solidly built. In the Year of the Lord 1808).
Santo Domingo, 961, Santiago.