1573 Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral

Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
  • The cathedral has four façades which contain portals flanked with columns and statues. The two bell towers contain a total of 25 bells. The tabernacle, adjacent to the cathedral, contains the baptistery and serves to register the parishioners. There are two large, ornate altars, a sacristy, and a choir in the cathedral. Fourteen of the cathedral's sixteen chapels are open to the public. Each chapel is dedicated to a different saint or saints, and each was sponsored by a religious guild. The chapels contain ornate altars, altarpieces, retablos, paintings, furniture and sculptures. The cathedral is home to two of the largest 18th-century organs in the Americas. There is a crypt underneath the cathedral that holds the remains of many former archbishops.
  • Over the centuries, the cathedral has suffered damage. A fire in 1967 destroyed a significant part of the cathedral's interior. The restoration work that followed uncovered a number of important documents and artwork that had previously been hidden. Although a solid foundation was built for the cathedral, the soft clay soil it is built on has been a threat to its structural integrity. Dropping water tables and accelerated sinking caused the structure to be added to the World Monuments Fund list of the 100 Most Endangered Sites. Reconstruction work beginning in the 1990s stabilized the cathedral and it was removed from the endangered list in 2000.
  • After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, the conquistadors decided to build their church on the site of the Templo Mayor of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan to consolidate Spanish power over the newly conquered domain. Hernán Cortés and the other conquistadors used the stones from the destroyed temple of the Aztec god of war Huitzilopochtli, principal deity of the Aztecs, to build the church. Cortés ordered the original church's construction after he returned from exploring what is now Honduras. Architect Martín de Sepúlveda was the first director of this project from 1524 to 1532. Juan de Zumárraga, the first Bishop of the first See of the New World, established in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, promoted this church's completion. Zumárraga's Cathedral was located in the northeast portion of what is now the cathedral. It had three naves separated by three Tuscan columns. The central roof was ridged with intricate carvings done by Juan Salcedo Espinosa and gilded by Francisco de Zumaya and Andrés de la Concha. The main door was probably of Renaissance style. The choir area had 48 seats made of ayacahuite wood crafted by Adrian Suster and Juan Montaño. However, this church was soon considered inadequate for the growing importance of the capital of New Spain.
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral.jpg

Tiny people and a huge building

  • The cathedral was constructed over a period of over two centuries, between 1573 and 1813. Its design is a mixture of three architectural styles that predominated during the colonial period, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-classic.
  • Initial plans for the new cathedral were drawn up and work on the foundation began in 1562. The decision to have the cathedral face south instead of east was made in 1570. In the same year, construction commenced, working from the Gothic designs and models created by Claudio de Arciniega and Juan Miguel de Agüero, inspired by cathedrals found in Spanish cities such as Valladolid and Jaén.
  • Because of the muddy subsoil of the site, work on the foundation continued past the work on the walls to 1581. In 1585, work on the first of the cathedral's chapels began and by 1615, the cathedral's walls reached to about half of their final height. Construction of the interior of the current cathedral began in 1623 and what is now the vestry was where Mass was conducted after the first church was finally torn down.
  • In 1629, work was interrupted by flooding, over two metres in depth. Parts of the city were damaged, especially around the main plaza or Zócalo. Because of such damage, this site was almost abandoned and a new cathedral project was begun in the hills of the Tacubaya area to the west.
  • Despite these problems, the project continued in its current location, and under the direction of Luis Gómez de Transmonte, the interior was finished and consecrated in 1667. The cathedral still lacked bell towers, the complete front facade, and many of the other features it has now at the beginning of the 18th century.
  • In 1787, José Damian Ortiz de Castro was in charge of finishing work on the cathedral. He did most of the work on the bell towers, putting in most of the fretwork and capping them with roofs in the shape of bells. With his death in 1793, he did not live to see the cathedral completed, and Manuel Tolsá finished the cathedral by adding the cupola, the central front facade, the balustrades, and the statues of Faith, Hope and Charity at the top of the front facade. Tolsa's work was the last major construction to the cathedral and the appearance it had when he finished is the basic look the cathedral has today.
  • The cathedral faces south and is approximately 54.5 metres (179 ft) wide and 110 metres (360 ft) long.
  • It consists of two bell towers, a central dome, three main portals, five naves, 51 vaults, 74 arches and 40 columns. Inside the cathedral are five large altars, sixteen chapels, a choir area, a corridor, capitulary room, and sacristy. The cathedral has approximately 150 windows.
  • Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral

KD: They just had to "build" these humongous things back in the day. What did they use to transport things? This?


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