This Mexico City Cathedral has seen it all from reigning emperors to colonial history and is also one of the city’s oldest buildings.
This awe-inspiring cathedral is easily one of the most impressive colonial structures in historic New Mexico – or any colonial structure anywhere in the world for that matter. The cathedral website is very small and only in Spanish. If one is visiting Barcelona, one of the city’s most amazing highlights is the Sagrada Familia – still under construction since 1885.
The Spanish have a tradition of very long Catholic names, and according to this, the full name of the Metropolitan Cathedral is Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos (or in English Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Holy Virgin Mary in Heaven).
Metropolitan cathedral background
It is a magnificent cathedral and a must see for anyone visiting Mexico City. Its location is unfortunate as the Spanish demolished the former Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan and built Mexico City on top of it.
It is located at the top of the ancient sacred precinct of Tenochtitlan near the Templo Mayor (where the Aztecs performed human sacrifices to the gods). Few structures in the world more perfectly symbolize the destruction and dismantling of the old order and the creation of the new.
- Fun fact: The full name of Buenos Aires was “Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre“or” City of Notre-Dame Sainte Marie des Bons Vents “
Some of the stones that the cathedral is made of came from ancient Aztec temples. Besides being practical and readily available, the Spaniards used these stones and built on the old scared premonitory so that they could claim the land and the people back.
- The oldest : It is the oldest cathedral in the Americas with Hernan Cortés (supposedly) laying the foundation stone
- Built: 1573 to 1813
- Years to complete: 250 years (Wow)
Today it is located in the historic center of Mexico City. It was built in sections from 1573 to 1813. The inspiration was drawn from the Gothic cathedrals of Spain. In 250 years to complete in its current form, this is one of the longest construction projects ever undertaken.
The sheer duration of construction led to the incorporation of various architectural styles into its design – notably Gothic, Baroque, Churrigueresque and Neoclassical. It was a massive undertaking which had the advantage of being a point of social cohesion.
- Number of bells: 25 bells in the two bell towers
The Metropolitan Cathedral has two bell towers, a central dome and three main portals. It is an engineering marvel and a real sight to behold. It houses two of the largest 18th-century organs in the Americas, and the crypt below the cathedral is home to many former archbishops.
The cathedral is considered a hotbed of Mexican cultural identity and is a testament to the nation’s colonial history.
His coronation of the Mexican emperors (short-lived)
Mexico was the only former Spanish colony to establish a monarch after independence and form an empire (twice). Other “empires” in the Americas were the Brazilian Empire and the First and Second Haitian Empires.
The first (and only) emperor of the First Mexican Empire was Augustine of Iturbide. He was crowned in the Metropolitan Cathedral after successfully waging Mexico’s War of Independence from Spain. Unlike George Washington who became the first president and then retired as a hero, Augustine was emperor and was quickly executed.
In addition, his wife, Empress Ana María Huarte, was crowned in the Metropolitan Cathedral (she lived her years mainly in the United States after her husband’s execution).
- Coronation: July 1822
- Reign: May 1822 to March 1823 (Less than a year)
- Executed: He was executed in July 1824 (he designed the Mexican flag)
Later, in 1864, during the Second Mexican Empire, Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and Empress Charlotte of Belgium were also crowned here (they became known as Maximiliano and Carlota of Mexico).
In a You already from the first attempt at empire in Mexico, the Second Mexican Empire lasted only a few years. The one and only Emperor Maximilian was executed by the government after being overthrown.
Visit of the Metropolitan Cathedral
Today anyone can visit the cathedral and it is open every day. It is a fully functional cathedral where Catholic mass is celebrated every Sunday by the Archbishop of Mexico.
- Admission: Free (additional cost for visits under the cathedral in the crypt)
- Mass: The Archbishop of Mexico officiates at 12 noon Mass every Sunday
- Tongue: Tours under the cathedral are in Spanish, it is not clear if they are also offered in English
- Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
For those who also wish to visit the the biggest church in the world is Ulm Cathedral in the city of Ulm in Germany.
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