Page C1.1 . 16 March 2005                     
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    Postcard from Santa Ana

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    The earthquake-damaged Cathedral of Santa Ana, El Salvador. Photography by Claire Gallagher.

    Dear ArchitectureWeek,

    An hour's drive northwest from San Salvador takes you to the mountainous, volcanic area of El Salvador, to an altitude far above the heat of the coast and the congestion of the capital. Near the Volcán de Izalco is Santa Ana, El Salvador's second largest city. It is surrounded by beautiful green peaks and sky-blue lakes and, unlike most other cities here, has retained much of its colonial heritage.

    A major earthquake in 2001 destroyed or severely damaged many buildings here. City Hall, one of the oldest buildings in Santa Ana, was spared, but the other grand buildings surrounding the plaza were not as lucky.

    The Cathedral of Santa Ana, the most imposing of the buildings dominating the square, is undergoing extensive restoration after suffering severe damage in the earthquake. Recent efforts have revealed an impressive brick structure, but the residents of Santa Ana find it unappealing and are in favor of concealing it again. Although the climate here has not caused major damage to the building, the earthquake did, in some cases shaking surface material from its "bones."

    Thousands of pieces of the exterior stone work are being removed, while replacements are being fabricated and installed. When the project is completed, the cathedral will again be an architectural gift to the city's patron saint, Santa Ana.

    On the road in Santa Ana, El Salvador,
    Claire Gallagher


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