302

OverviewTranscribeVersionsHelp

Facsimile

Transcription

Show Translation

302

CARACAS.

[ments ; the very cornices appear to have been
dipped in gold, whilst superb carpets are spread
over the part of llie floor whereon the seats of ho
nour are placed ; the furniture is arranged in the
hall in such a manner that the sofa, which forms
an essential part of it, stands at one end with
chairs on the right and left, and opposite the prin
cipal bed in the house, which stands at the other
extremitj, in a chamber, the door of which is kept
open, or is equally exposed to view in an alcove.
These apartments, always very elegant and high
ly ornamented, are in a manner prohibited to those
who inhabit the house : they are only opened, with
a few exceptions, in honour of guests of superior
rank.

14. Public buildings. — The city of Caracas
possesses no other public buildings than such as
are dedicated to religion. The captain-general,
the members of the royal audience, the intendant,
and all the officers of the tribunal, occupy hired
houses ; even the hospital for the troops is a pri
vate house. The contaduria, or treasury, is the
only building belonging to the king, and its con
struction is far from bespeaking the majesty of its
owner. It is not so with the barracks ; they are
new, elegantly built, and situate in a spot where the
sight breaks upon the city, and are two stories
high, in which they can conveniently lodge 2000
men. They are occupied only by the troops of
the line ; the militia having barracks of their own,
consisting of a house, at the opposite part of the
city.

15. Archbishopric. — Caracas is the seat of the
archbishopric of Venezuela, the diocese of which
is very extensive, it being bounded on the n. by
the sea, from the river Unare to the jurisdiction of
Coro ; on the e. by the province of Cumana, on
the s. by the Orinoco, and on the w. by the
bishopric of Merida. Caracas was erected into
an archbishopric in 1803. The annual revenue
of the archbishopric depends on the abundance of
the harvests and the price of commodities, on
Avhich they take the titlies : these tithes are equally
divided between the archbishopric, tlie chapter,
the king, and the ministers of religion. The
fourth part, belonging to the prelate, amounted on
an average, before the war terminated by the treaty
of Amiens, to 60,000 dollars per annum. The
decrease of cultivation will for a long time pre
vent the episcopal revenues amounting to the
above sum. Indeed the archbishop does not
even enjoy the whole of this fourth part of the
tithes, the king having reserved to himself the
application of the third of this quarter, and charg
ing upon it certain pensions. The seat of this

archbishopric was established at Coro in 1532,
and translated to Caracas in 1636.

16. Cathedral. — The cathedral church does not
merit a description but from the rank it holds in
the hierarchy ; not but that the interior is deco
rated with hangings and gilding, and that the
sacerdotal robes and sacred vases are sufficiently
splendid, but that its construction, its architec
ture, its dimensions, and its arrangements, are
void of majesty and regularity. It is about 250
feet long and 75 broad ; it is low and supported in
the interior by 24 pillars in four rows, which run
the whole length of the cathedral. The two centre
rows form the nave of the church, which is 25
feet broad ; the other two rows divide the aisles at
equal distances of 12| feet, so that the nave alone
is of the width of the two aisles, which are on its
right and left. The chief altar, instead of being,
like the Roman altars, in the centre, is placed
against the wall. The choir occupies one half
of tlie nave, and the arrangement of the church
is such, that not more than 400 persons can see
the officiating priest at whatever altar he may be
performing tlie service. The exterior does not
evince any taste or skill in the architect ; the
steeple alone, without having received any em
bellishment from art, has at least the merit of a
boldness to which the cathedral has no pretensions.
The only clock in Caracas is in this steeple ; it
strikes the quarters, and keeps time pretty well.
The humble architecture of the first church in
Caracas springs from a source highly honourable
to the inhabitants, and which we are therefore
bound to relate : The episcopal chair having been
translated from Coro to Caracas, (as we have be
fore observed), in 1636, there was no necessity
until this period for a cathedral in this city ; and
when they had begun to carry into execution a
project of erecting a magnificent church, there
happened, on 11th June 1641, a violent earth
quake, which did great damage in the city. This
was regarded as an admonition of heaven to make
the fabric more capable of resisting this sort of
catastrophe, than of attracting the admiration of
the curious. From this time, therefore, they no
longer thought of, or rather they renounced, all ideas
of magnificence, to give the building nothing but
solidity. But as they have never since expe
rienced any shock of an earthquake, they have
resumed the project of building a handsome ca
thedral.

17. Religious customs, — The people of Caracas,
like all the Spaniards, are proud of being Chris
tians, and are very attentive to the duties of re
ligion, that is to the mass, days of obligation, to]

Page Notes

Nobody has written a note for this page yet

Please sign in to write a note for this page