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Mexico City, Metropolitan Cathedral | by Arian Zwegers
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Mexico City, Metropolitan Cathedral

Mexico City, Metropolitan Cathedral

 

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven (Spanish: Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos) is the largest cathedral in the Americas, and seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. It is situated atop the former Aztec sacred precinct near the Templo Mayor on the northern side of the Plaza de la Constitución in downtown Mexico City. The cathedral was built in sections from 1573 to 1813 around the original church that was constructed soon after the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlan, eventually replacing it entirely. Spanish architect Claudio de Arciniega planned the construction, drawing inspiration from Gothic cathedrals in Spain.

 

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.

 

In 1544, ecclesiastical authorities in Valladolid ordered the creation of a new and more sumptuous cathedral. In 1552, an agreement was reached whereby the cost of the new cathedral would be shared by the Spanish crown, encomenderos and the Indians under the direct authority of the archbishop of New Spain. The cathedral was begun by being built around the existing church in 1573. When enough of the cathedral was built to house basic functions, the original church was demolished to enable construction to continue.

 

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.

 

(source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico_City_Metropolitan_Cathedral)

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Taken on April 12, 2015