LA PAZ – The 18th-century Santa Teresa convent, in the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba, opened to the public on Tuesday after a five-year restoration effort.
The project’s head architect, 70-year-old Mario Moscoso, told EFE that the restoration came “just in time” to avoid the structure’s imminent collapse
“It actually (once) served as a convent,” he said about the religious complex dating from 1760. “As of now, it will be a museum of sacred art. Its purpose has changed.”
The site’s architectural and artistic renewal efforts started in 2014, following 30 years of campaigning for institutional support, he added.
The project received around $1 million from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, as well as an additional $150,000 in donations by the Carmelite community and local parishioners.
The funds were used to pay for the required materials, some of which were sourced locally, but others had to be imported from Spain and Italy, such as the gold leaf needed to restore the altarpiece.
Moscoso – who has dedicated three decades of his career to restoring religious buildings – said that his team has attempted to find replacements for the missing roof tiles in nearby towns, where ancient architectural pieces abound.
At least six architects, as well as more than 100 Bolivian personnel, have participated in the project, which aims to not only restore the physical structure but also to keep alive the “spirit, unseen by the human eye,” said Moscoso.