Facades and portals, Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral

The main facade of the cathedral faces south. The main portal is centered in the main facade and is the highest of the cathedral’s three portals. Statues of Saint Peter and Paul the Apostle stand between the columns of the portal, while Saint Andrew and James the Just are depicted on the secondary doorway. In the center of this doorway is a high relief of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, to whom the cathedral is dedicated. This image is flanked by images of Saint Matthew and Saint Andrew. The coat of arms of Mexico is above the doorway, with the eagle’s wings outstretched. There is a clock tower at the very top of the portal with statues representing Faith, Hope and Charity, which was created by sculptor Manuel Tolsá.

The west facade was constructed in 1688 and rebuilt in 1804. It has a three-section portal with images of the Four Evangelists. The west portal has high reliefs depicting Jesus handing the Keys of Heavens to Saint Peter.

The east facade is similar to the west facade. The reliefs on the east portal show a ship carrying the four apostles, with Saint Peter at the helm. The title of this relief is The ship of the Church sailing the seas of Eternity.

The northern facade, built during the 16th century in the Renaissance Herrera style, is oldest part of the cathedral and was named after Juan de Herrera, architect of the El Escorial monastery in Spain. While the eastern and western facades are older than most of the rest of the building, their third level has Solomonic columns which are associated with the Baroque period.

All the high reliefs of the portals of the cathedral were inspired by the work of Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.

Situated to the right of the main cathedral, the Metropolitan Tabernacle was built by Lorenzo Rodríguez during the height of the Baroque period between 1749 and 1760, to house the archives and vestments of the archbishop. It also functioned and continues to function as a place to receive Eucharist and register parishioners.

The first church built on the cathedral site also had a tabernacle, but its exact location is unknown. During the construction of the cathedral, the tabernacle was housed in what are now the Chapels of San Isidro and Our Lady of Agony of Granada. However, in the 18th century, it was decided to build a structure that was separate, but still connected, to the main cathedral. It is constructed of tezontle (a reddish porous volcanic rock) and white stone in the shape of a Greek cross with its southern facade faces the Zócalo. It is connected to the main cathedral via the Chapel of San Isidro.

The interiors of each wing have separate uses. In the west wing is the baptistry, in the north is the main altar, the main entrance and a notary area, separated by inside corner walls made of chiluca stone and tezontle. Chiluca, a white stone, covers the walls and floors and the tezontle frames the doors and windows. At the crossing of the structure is an octagonal dome framed by arches that form curved triangles where they meet at the top of the dome. The principal altar is in the ornate Churrigueresque style and crafted by indigenous artist Pedro Patiño Ixtolinque. It was inaugurated in 1829.

The exterior of the Baroque styled tabernacle is almost entirely adorned with decorations, such as curiously shaped niche shelves, floating drapes and many cherubs. Carvings of fruits such as grapes and pomegranates have been created to in the shape of ritual offerings, symbolizing the Blood of Christ and the Church. Among the floral elements, roses, daisies, and various types of four-petalled flowers can be found, including the indigenous chalchihuite.

The tabernacle has two main outside entrances; one to the south, facing the Zócalo and the other facing east toward Seminario Street. The southern façade is more richly decorated than the east façade. It has a theme of glorifying the Eucharist with images of the Apostles, Church Fathers, saints who founded religious orders, martyrs as well as scenes from the Bible. Zoomorphic reliefs can be found along with the anthropologic reliefs, including a rampaging lion, and the eagle from the coat of arms of Mexico. The east facade is less ambitious, but contains figures from the Old Testament as well as the images of John Nepomucene and Ignacio de Loyola. Construction dates for the phases of the tabernacle are also inscribed here.

Covers of the Cathedral of Mexico
The Cathedral of Mexico boasts seven doors. Three correspond to its main facade, two to the arms of the cruise and the other two at the foot of the temple, to the north. Each one of the mentioned doors is the center a cover. As each of these covers gives a peculiar and diverse spirit of art, it is necessary to study them separately.

Start with the oldest ones: those that open on the north side. It is certain that these covers the most primitive of our major church. Not ’10 reveals his style, but the historical data we have about the construction of the building: you can make sure that by 1615 they were finished. His spirit seems to invoke that of that gloomy and brilliant man named Felipe Il. In the history of American art there are no constructions more attached to the so-called herreriano than such doors, which can only be matched by the interiors of the sacristy and the chapter room. They reveal an unequaled austerity: sober Doric pilasters carved in Creole chiluca, a name that is applied to granite, to this stone that hurts our hands with the rigor of its symbolic hardness frame the cover.

The pilasters support a triangular pediment; to the sides, meager pyramidal ornaments and to the center the door with a semicircular arch that offers the gracefully sculpted key as a unique ornament; they are terrifying doors through which only our holy church seems to penetrate at ease, the icy wind from the north to which they open to taste. A more human detail as a work of time is found in the apse of the temple guarded by these two lateral sentinels: a niche built in a soft neoclassical style with the Passover Lamb; below it reads an inscription taken from Psalm 114: LAUDATE DOMINUM OMNES GENTES.

Such are the covers of the north side of the cathedral.

In antiquity follow the three covers that decorate the main facade. Let’s start with the one in the center. His story is complicated. It was concluded in 1672, during the rule of the viceroy Marquis de Mancera, but this must be understood in what refers to the cornice of the second body, because the upper part was built at a later time.

Let us describe this magnificent work of art of the viceroyalty. The first body consists of two pairs of columns of rough order not equivalent to the old Doric, crowned by its complete entablature with triglyphs and metopes and the cornice supported by cinnamon sticks. The columns form highlights on both sides of the structure and among them are niches with large stone statues of Villerías, which represent the apostles San Pedro and San Pablo. The second clearly reads Miguel Ximénez’s signature and the date 1687. It is almost certain that he himself was the author of the great relief that occupies the central body of this cover, which we can describe as follows: on the cornice of the first body rises an attic with its highlights corresponding to the columns that serve as pedestals to others of Ionic order, whose first third is adorned with saw-shaped belts and the other two ribbed: the capitals are Ionic baluster.

In the intercolumniums, two statues representing diverse saints are seen; the center is occupied by a large high relief carved in the same stone of Villerías; Its subject is the Assumption of Our Lady, patron saint of the Holy Church, and the work is worked with great artistic sense not without audacity, as was convenient for such a place. The surrounding frame, made of soft quarry, recalls the carved and gilded wooden frames.

A complete entablature is also seen on this second body. The frieze is convex, all covered with fine reliefs, as corresponded to the baroque style in which the work is built. The cornice corresponds to the same Ionic style. On this cornice, but work already far later, a large attic with threshing piles that extend the columns to the top and between which fine motifs carved in stone are displaced.

In the center, on the great high relief, a medallion adorned with garlands with the national shield that was, of course, the royal shield of Spain. Various artisans worked on the work of this shield. Apparently it was made of golden stone with gilded bronze fittings. At the end of the 18th century, the Caamaño silversmith was paid one thousand eight hundred pesos for two crowns and two bands with his signs, all of gilded bronze, for the columns and the Ultra Plus of the coat of arms. We do not know if such a shield existed or was demolished when the central body of the church was raised, already in the time of Tolsá, to build the clock; however, the accounts followed indicate that everything was done on the same date. Crown the attic of which we have spoken a curvilinear pediment that rests on the outermost pilasters of the attic and on two strips that extend up the other two threshing piles.

Above all this structure, the cube that holds the clock that is crowned by the great group of the three Theological Virtues, carved in stone by the distinguished architect Manuel Tolsá, stands. The six chiluca stones of a rod and two thirds for these statues cost a thousand pesos and were sold by Marcos de León. There were enough difficulties to bring them from the quarry to the place where they were to be carved and it still turned out that the officers of the Sandoval sculptor threw the most important stone with such clumsiness that they spoiled it and he forced himself to bring another one equal to his coast, for the work. Tolsá charged for the three statues five thousand five hundred thirty-nine pesos, plus one thousand five hundred for the cross and chalice for the Faith, the anchor for Hope and the flame for Charity, all gilded bronze on fire. Your receipt is dated December 10, 1812.

Tolsá, a great architect who saves with his presence our very poor neoclassical art, elaborates three figures that are enough to give a name to whoever. They are not entirely original: in the old stone sculptures that crown the façade that you see north of the Tabernacle, you can find their models, but Tolsá develops in them his sculptural genius that owes his success to having amalgamated with the neoclassical academic spirit, very Louis XVI, some of the inextinguishable fire of baroque art that he had learned well from that incomparable baroque artist, perhaps the only baroque sculptor par excellence, the Bernini. Thus, this trilogy, this unification of dramas, of the most successful dramas that humanity has witnessed in His three supreme symbols, Faith, Hope and Charity, are represented in a more architectural, rather than sculptural, human form, almost divine.

You have to look closely from one of the towers such a group to realize the artistic and spiritual meaning they contain: the child who huddles at the feet of Charity, with a feeling that makes him forget his role as a church saint, peeks down and shudders at the danger of the abyss that opens at his feet; Thus, the midwife 10 helps not because of the cold or hunger she feels, but because of the human fear that invades her. The cover shows a large votive inscription in the attic that crowns the first body, which reads: “D. O. M. SSᵐᵃᵉ Q. V. L. MARIÆ IN CŒLOS ASSUMPTÆ.

Carᵒ II Hísp.ᶸᵐRex & Regᵃ. Gen. ͥ D. Mariana Tut.ͯ & Regn.ᶸᵐ Gouer ͥ ͯ Regioque nomine. D. Antᵒ || Sebast | ᵒ d. Toledo Marchio de Mācera. Nouæ Hispa.ᵃᵉ Prorex. hocfideitestim.ᶸᵐ a. Carᵒ I °. Inuic- || toImp.ʳᵉ V. Cū. Cathol.ͨᵃRelíg.ᵉ in hoc NouoOrbefundatum &. to. tribᵒPijsSuccessoribᵒ Philip || pisRegᵒexpensisextructum in reuerentie & gratit.ᵃ monumentū, DOC Anno 1672. 11 Non fecitt aliter omni Nationi. -Psalm; 147. ”

On the sides of this main cover and separated from it by large buttresses that are joined to the body of the building by means of inverted brackets, two other magnificent covers appear whose description can be summarized as follows: the first body is of the same Doric, that is, Tuscan, than the main one, with its complete focus, but at a level lower than the central cover. The equally semicircular arch, with a funny key in its center. On the ledge an attic with the highlights corresponding to the lower body that marks the entablature of the lower columns, give pairs of salomonic columns of thick relief, winding its shaft with ornaments between the projections. The capitals are Corinthians and crown a complete entablamiento, more sober than the one of the central cover. To the center, in frames that mimic assembly work,

Until this cornice that crowns the described bodies, the work was finished in the 17th century. At the end of the eighteenth century, when the building was completed, the auctions that can still be seen and that basically consist of a pontifical shield in a medallion bordered by garlands and macetones on each side of the shield were added, to whose side children are sculpted in stone. These children are the work of the sculptor Ignacio Sandoval, who charged for each one hundred pesos according to a receipt signed on December 31, 1790.

It is undoubtedly due to such a difference in dates between the two constructions, for which the diversity between both works can be noticed: a much more ornate conception corresponds to a baroque moderated from the lower part; Of course the scale has been broken: those naughty children who are playing next to the planters have nothing to do with the proportionally smaller hieratic figures that are seen in the lower part. Ortiz de Castro was the author of these auctions, as can be seen in his project, and the realization seems to have been perfect. The viewer feels conmined by several tendencies: from the critical point of view, it is undoubtedly a mistake to have added motifs that dissuade him with the solemn structure of the lower part. From a more human point of view, in which art forgets his doctoral gowns and addresses the spirit directly, this more realistic, more picturesque sense moves us and pleases us. How much that the facade of the temple has lost in homogeneity 10 that it has achieved in human flavor, in vitality, in spirit! Those of us who censored such disagreements before, cannot help recognizing them in a broader and more magnanimous understanding of criticism.

The cover that looks to the west side was concluded on August 5, 1688, the Viceroy Count de la Monclova ruling the New Spain. It is known that in 1 It is this cover of the cathedral temple a good example of sober baroque art. It consists of three bodies and a shot. The first consists of two pairs of Doric columns, read Tuscan, with its complete entablature. Between each pair of columns there are niches with marble statues representing various saints. The second body is first formed by an attic whose center reads the commemorative inscription that we reproduce below:

“King In Spain And In This New World The Catolico Carlos 2nd, And Being Virrey Of This New Spain Don Melchor Porto Carero Lazo De La Bega, Conde De La Monclova, Has Been Real And Special Covered On August 5, 1688 YEARS. And it was rebuilt in 1804. ”

Four Ionic columns that correspond to the lower ones move on the attic. In the intercolumnios, elongated windows with trapezoidal finish and in the center a wider one with a scark finish and its ornate frame with discreet stone reliefs. The same as a small sill that rests on the attic. On the cornice of the Ionic entablature of the second body there is another smaller attic, with its highlights provided. The third body offers only two Solomon columns with ornaments in relief in the notches of its curve and with Corinthian capitals, as corresponds to the place where they are placed. On the sides of the columns two niches with two other sculptures of saints, in Villería stone.

In the center a large circular window with its perimeter decorated with stone reliefs and circumscribed all of it in a rectangular frame. This provision seems improvised and does not cause good effect. The entablamiento of the third body extends to both sides of the broken pediment that constitutes the auction, to shelter the statues that are seen to the sides. The auction is constituted by the broken pediment of which we have spoken, which is supported by a wall of beautiful lateral curves finished by a curvilinear cornice topped by a cross. The free space seen between the cornices that form the pediment was’ occupied by a large shield with the royal weapons of Spain. Nowadays he looks naked, with a great waning of the architectural composition of the cover.

On the west side of the temple there is another cover, similar to the previous one in a whole. The inscription he shows like this: “REYN.ͩ ͦ EN ESPᵃ. And In This New Work. elCathᵒ. Carlos II and being viceroy, desta Nᵃ. Espᵃ D. Melchor Portocarrero Lazᵒ. of the Vega Cōde de la Moncloua this Real and Spectacular Cover was started in beinte and August 7, 1688 years and was completed October 8, 1689 years gou.ͩᵒ the Ex.ᵐᵒ Mr. D. Gaspar de Silva Cōde de Galu.ᵉ ”.

Artistic styles of the Cathedral
The fact that the Cathedral of Mexico is an authentic school of the diverse artistic currents that took place during four centuries is impressive, and that were reflected both inside and outside, given that while it was built, the various trends, movements and art schools in the field of architecture, painting, sculpture, etc. that according to the various builders, influenced their building.

Thus, we talk about 400 years of artistic culture using all kinds of material, such as wood, metal, tezontle, stone, marble, stucco, and especially quarry that is the most widespread material of the Cathedral, in this way we speak from Gothic art, at the end of the fifteenth century until the neoclassical of the nineteenth century both in its construction and in its altarpieces, sculptures, columns, shelves, balustrades, vaults, and we can affirm that our Cathedral has all the styles that were born, grew, matured and finally disappeared during its construction and that logically influenced its factory, the only styles that are not found are the last ones, generically called “modern” or “modernist” and especially the “postmodernists”, thinking that the Cathedral finishes its construction towards the year 1813

Gothic Art
The oldest of the styles found in the Cathedral is the so-called “Gothic”, a term coined by Renaissance humanists to despise the “art of the Goths,” today the French, and despite efforts to change the term, this one it was already in the memory of the centuries.

Gothic art is usually divided into three stages that span from the eleventh century to the end of the fifteenth century. From the first period called “primitive Gothic” we have as an example the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (a. 1163); from the second that is called “full Gothic” we have as an example the Chartres Cathedral (a. 1250), and from the third period, called “late Gothic” we have as an example the Royal Chapel in the College of Cambridge (a. 1515).

As characteristics characteristic of Gothic art, we have the use of the ogival form (in the form of a leaf); the ribs in the vaults and columns and the use of the rosettes (multicolored circular stained glass). The Gothic, like all art, reflects the values of the spirit of the time, thus, in the Middle Ages it deprived a spirituality directed “upwards”, that is, towards the height where God is, hence the man should “look to the heights “more than to the realities of the earth, from here the very high ships, the ogives of arches, ships and stained glass windows that end in point, and that invited to go towards the top, where the true values were.

The interiors of the Gothic cathedrals were rather dark, as if inviting meditation, prayer, and interiority. The Gothic is disappearing towards the fifteenth century, and yet, the portentous creativity of the Gothic man, still today causes a deep admiration, which certainly influenced not only in France, but throughout Europe, including Spain, where art comes to us Gothic.

When the construction of the Cathedral of Mexico began, the Gothic was already in its last stages, giving way to new and different architectural and artistic conceptions in general, however, the Cathedral also has some gothic brushstroke like the two wonderful vaults of the Sacristy carried by the gothic ribs and sub-stalls, the same goes for the vaults that cover the Chapter House, twin of the Sacristy and that form, together with the apse of today Altar de los Reyes, the oldest cathedral buildings, although there are no rosettes.

The Herreriano Art
The next of the architectural styles that we find in the Cathedral is the so-called Herreriano that, although it is not the immediate follower of the Gothic, because this is followed by the Mannerism of which the Cathedral does not have any example, because he had already finished his time when he construction of the cathedral building begins.

The herreriano is a style named for the architect Juan de Herrera who owes this style whose best example is the Escorial (a. 1584) and whose work was under the orders of King Felipe II (1552-1584), style that It was promoted in Spanish America.

The herreriano has as its own characteristics: its monumentality, its sobriety, its classic elegance and its severe and broad style. Like the Gothic, also the herreriano is caused by the spirituality of his time that carries the idea of a Church solidly grounded, of strength and greatness, but at the same time of great sobriety, so that luxuries and ornaments are eliminated.

Under these concepts, the herreriano will use large spaces, whose long, solid and tall walls, are only interrupted by the large square windows, with a trellis, that illuminate the interior, so in this style multicolored stained glass windows are not used.

The idea is perfectly expressed by the elements that make up this architectural type. Being therefore the herreriano the style that is own of Spain and promoted by the same King Felipe II, nothing strange that it passed his influence to the Spanish Colonies, and thus, our Cathedral has the herreriano to a large extent.

Indeed, the large spaces of the side walls, both east and west and also the apse walls, interrupted by the large square windows that illuminate the interior of the Chapels, give an imposing monumentality seen from the outside. And inside, both the Sacristy and the Chapter Hall, are a clear example of the rigor of Herrera with such severity, that later its walls were covered with large paintings and altarpieces

Baroque Art
Between the last Gothic stadium, at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the Baroque at the end of the 16th century, there was a period that produced Mannerism in the first part of the 16th century in Italy.

Mannerism was an aesthetic movement that reflected the crisis in art that appeared in this period and is characterized by a turbulent art, full of contradictions, rare and exaggerated with anguishing visions of nightmare and even diabolical, so it is difficult to define it with precision.

Architecture did not receive as much influence as painting and sculpture, so we do not properly have examples of this style. As a reaction to Mannerism, a new artistic form emerges that receives the name of Baroque, a term of origin really uncertain, since some do derive from the Italian term “Baroque” which is the name of a medieval syllogism and others of the Portuguese language “Baroque” that in jewelry means an irregular pearl so it will be until the 19th century when it is given a more precise definition.

Baroque dominated in general terms, from the end of the 16th century until the middle of the 18th century and three well-defined stages can be considered: primitive baroque, full baroque and late baroque. The baroque is mystical exuberance in all artistic orders.

The sixteenth century was one of the most prolific times for being a century of passage, transition. There is an extraordinary effervescence in the political, economic, social, artistic and attached to this, the discovery of the New World, transforms international relations, so Baroque art is the reflection of this widespread mood.

In the religious, the great changes that came from the Protestant Reformation and the reaction of the Catholic Church, resulted in a change in all the arts where the baroque was manifested as the exuberant of faith, and the splendor of the Catholic cult in architecture, sculpture, painting, literature and even music, baroque reaction that appears widespread in all Catholic areas, in the face of Puritanism and the exaggerated sobriety of Protestants.

Thus, the mysticism of the Baroque underlines the optimism, vitality and triumph of the Catholic faith in its splendid ornaments, ornaments and, at that time, bold artistic conceptions. On the other hand, the baroque unifies three of the great arts: architecture, sculpture and painting, so that the most important thing in the baroque is not the detail, but the overall vision, which even today, makes those who marvel contemplate the mastery of this style.

In Mexico, as in all of Latin America, the bold inventiveness of Spanish architects, together with the profound artistic vision of the natives, gave new and surprising visions to the Baroque, especially during the 18th century, precisely when in Europe the Baroque was extinguished little by little, degenerating into the exaggeration of the rococo, or, as in other cases, assuming the neoclassical style.

From the splendor of the Baroque in its various stages, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico is one of its clearest examples, because indeed, during the development of the Baroque they are under its influence from the incipient Baroque of the front, eastern and western front covers to to reach its maximum expression inside the Chapels with its extraordinary altarpieces, mainly the Altar of the Kings and the Chapel of the Angels, to name a few, which we will see in more detail in the following files.

The Neoclassical Art
The baroque in its last stage, was assumed in other styles, including the Neoclassical. This is an artistic movement that was born in Europe towards the second half of the 18th century (1750) and lasts until the end of the 19th century. Actually it was a reaction to the exaggerated style of Rococo, heir of the Baroque, on the one hand, and on the other hand, was the result of the discovery at that time, of two Greco-Roman cities: Pompeii and Herculaneum, in Italy, whose art influenced prevailing mode at that time.

As a fundamental feature, the neoclassical sought to imitate Greco-Roman architectural models, mainly Doric art. His mysticism is based on a romantic sense of classical values and a spirituality focused on the longing for Greek heroic times.

Romanticism was the main feature of literature and music in the nineteenth century, and also influenced the arts such as painting, sculpture and architecture. This style is an art rather symbolic than creative.

In the field of architecture, neoclassical art made its appearance in the Spain of Carlos III (1760-1788) and its best examples were the Puerta de Alcalá and the extraordinary building that houses the Prado Museum, in Madrid.

In the Latin American countries, the Neoclassical one turned more to Doric monuments and lasted until the 20th century. The Cathedral of Mexico, did not escape the influence of neoclassicism, and although it does not appear in a significant way outside the Cathedral, since most of the building had been completed, if it appears in some changes that were made in the interior of the Chapels, and in some of them, where there were baroque altarpieces, were reconstructed, according to the prevailing canons of the time and it is precisely the neoclassical style reigning, thus, the altars carved in quarry of the Chapels of Our Lady of the Dolores and the Chapel of Mr. del Buen Despacho, on the west side, and on the east side, the Chapels of Santa María la Antigua and Our Lady of Guadalupe, are examples of the neoclassical influence.

In conclusion, if anyone wanted to know the various most important architectural styles that occurred during the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, nothing better than taking as a guide and example the Cathedral of Mexico, because they were all embodied in its construction when each one of the Major Masters who built it, faithful to its times, unified, in a marvelous way, what already existed, with the novelties of art in the times that they had to live.

There is nothing in the Cathedral that has not been assumed in a whole, although the different styles that forged it can be distinguished.

Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heavens (Spanish: Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos) is the seat of the 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 (Zócalo) 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.

Due to the long time it took to build it, just under 250 years, virtually all the main architects, painters, sculptors, gilding masters and other plastic artists of the viceroyalty worked at some point in the construction of the enclosure. This same condition, that of its extensive period of construction, allowed the integration into it of the various architectural styles that were in force and in vogue in those centuries: Gothic, Baroque, Churrigueresque, Neoclassical, among others. Same situation experienced different ornaments, paintings, sculptures and furniture in the interior.

Its realization meant a point of social cohesion, because it involved the same ecclesiastical authorities, government authorities, different religious brotherhoods as many generations of social groups of all classes.

It is also, as a consequence of the influence of the Catholic Church on public life, that the building was intertwined with events of historical significance for the societies of New Spain and independent Mexico. To mention a few, there are the coronation of Agustín de Iturbide and Ana María Huarte as emperors of Mexico by the President of the Congress; the preservation of the funeral remains of the aforementioned monarch; burial until 1925 of several of the independence heroes such as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and José María Morelos; the disputes between liberals and conservatives caused by the separation of the church and the state in the Reform; the closure of the building in the days of the Cristero War; the celebrations of the bicentennial of independence, among others.

The cathedral faces south. The approximate measurements of this church are 59 metres (194 ft) wide by 128 metres (420 ft) long and a height of 67 metres (220 ft) to the tip of the towers. It consists of two bell towers, a central dome, three main portals. It has four façades which contain portals flanked with columns and statues. It has five naves consisting of 51 vaults, 74 arches and 40 columns. 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 five large, ornate altars, a sacristy, a choir, a choir area, a corridor and a capitulary room. 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. The cathedral has approximately 150 windows.

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. Restoration work beginning in the 1990s stabilized the cathedral and it was removed from the endangered list in 2000.