Metropolitan Cathedral

Metropolitan Cathedral

Sight included on our Buenos Aires Free City Tour

The Cathedral of Buenos Aires took 216 years to be built, collapsed seven times; Was stoned, burned and used as a political barricade. Its walls keep as much history as the country has.

The Metropolitan Cathedral is the oldest of the buildings surrounding the Plaza de Mayo, with a facade that, architecturally, has nothing to do with the rest of the building. The first construction, in 1593, was an adobe chapel. From that time until these days, there were in this site six different buildings, which had to be renewed by floods, fires, the precariousness of the materials and structural defects. The definitive construction began in 1752 under the direction of the Italian architect Antonio Masella and was completed in 1852, although its decoration only finished in 1911. Its final structure is neoclassical and has a profile little used in the cathedrals, giving a similarity closer to a Greek temple to the classic Catholic building. In 1822, the French Prospero Catelin and Pedro Benoit designed the facade, whose 12 columns symbolize the twelve apostles of Jesus. The interior has ships, side chapels and a cruise that is under an impressive dome that reaches 41 m high. Another detail of importance is the ornamentation of the front, realized in 1860 by the French sculptor Joseph Dubourdieu (author of the figure that is in the tip of the Pyramid of May) that realized the bas relief of the frontispiece, that represents the encounter of Jacob with His son Joseph in Egypt. Finally, in 1877, the architect Enrique Alberg reformed a lateral nave to give place to the mausoleum of General José de San Martín, the work of the sculptor Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse.

Buenos Aires Cathedral

Recently, tunnels built under its foundations have been reopened. There, in perfectly preserved cellars, rests the remains of several heroes such as San Martin, Las Heras and Tomás Guido. Under his vaults are kept the military trophies taken from the English in 1806 and 1807; To the Spaniards during the wars of Independence, and to the Brazilians during the war between 1826 and 1827. Other objects of art lie in dependencies without access to the public, jealously guarded: a cedar chest of drawers made by Indian missionaries during conquest; A baptismal font of stone from the 18th century and a lectern of quebracho from the last century.

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