High Altar, Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral

This disappeared in the forties of the twentieth century. On the occasion of the Jubilee of the year 2000, a new table of the main altar was made to replace the previous one. This was built in modernist style by architect Ernesto Gómez Gallardo.

Altar of the Kings
The Altar of the Kings is located in the apse of the temple, behind the Main Altar. It is the work of Jerónimo de Balbás, author among others of the altar of Forgiveness of this same cathedral, and of the disappeared Main Altar of the Church of the Tabernacle of the Cathedral of Seville. Its construction began in 1718, it is made in churrigueresco style in white cedar wood and ayacahuitePandorada, was completed in 1737 by Francisco Martínez, which makes it the oldest Churrigueresque work in Mexico. It measures 25 meters high, 13.75 m wide and 7.5 m deep, due to these dimensions it is known as «the golden cave». It was restored in 2003.

The altarpiece is divided into three streets, presenting an exuberant composition of pilasters, columns, foliage, garlands and cherubs. It takes its name from the carvings of saints belonging to royalty that are part of its decoration. At the bottom, from left to right, six canonized queens appear: Daisy of Scotland, Helena of Constantinople, Isabel of Hungary, Isabel of Portugal, Cunegunda of Luxembourg and Edith de Wilton. In the center of the altar are six canonized kings: Hermenegildo, Henry II of the Holy Germanic Roman Empire, Eduardo the Confessorand Casimir of Poland, located in a lower position, and Louis IX of France and Ferdinand III of Castile, located in a position superior to the previous four. In the center of these kings is an oil painting of the Adoration of the Kings by Juan Rodríguez Juárez that shows Jesus as King of kings.

The upper part has a painting of the Assumption of the Virgin, by the same author, as a celestial queen. The assumption painting is flanked by two oval bas-reliefs depicting Saint Joseph with the child Jesus and Saint Teresa of Avilawith a pen in his hand and the Holy Spirit, who inspires her to write, above her. The altarpiece is completed with the images of Christ and Mary surrounded by angels that carry attributes of praise to the virgin such as Sealed Fountain, Golden House, Living Water Well and Tower of David. The set is crowned by a double golden vault in which the image of God the Father holding the world appears.

The High Altar
Governing New Spain, the viceroy Marquis de Mancera built the main altar or Tabernacle “whose columns, says the viceroy in the instruction given to his successor, are of similar material in splendor and permanence to the alabaster (of the marble called tecali) and I dare to believe that he can compete with anyone in Italy who has an opinion. ”

Keep in the General Archive the concert deed for the factory of the main altar made with Antonio Maldonado, master of architecture and assembler, as principal, and Juan Montero and Pedro Maldonado, masters of such art, as their guarantors. The entire altar would be rich in size; It would consist of two main bodies with their oranges, superimposed, and a lantern crowning everything. Below there would be four lateral bodies with their respective domes and throughout the work sculptures would be distributed as follows: in the first body twelve statues of the apostles, or those that are chosen, and on the four dome the evangelists; the interior of the half orange falls like glory with seraphim and in the middle God the Father or the Holy Spirit. On the massifs of the sotabanca of the second body, eight angels or the saints who were appointed, and in the center the Assumption of the Virgin, patron of the temple; finally, on the lantern, to be seen from anywhere in the church, San Miguel. Naturally, the materials with which each part of the work should be constructed are specified; stability and solidity are demanded and the excellence of the Sculptures is prescribed.

The viceroy, according to his advisors, had arranged for the main altar to be placed at the site where it was built, that is, a section farther north of the cruise, not just below the dome but slightly more towards the apse. For this reason, a discussion arose that motivated a lot of paper and efforts that could have been better used. In fact, since then the convenience of changing the choir was moved to the north side of the temple and leaving the main altar on the cruise, just below the dome. A voluminous file is kept about this matter in the General Archive of the Nation and some documents related to the same subject in the archives of the Cathedral.

All the inconveniences and all the advantages were weighed thoroughly; It was even discussed about the air currents that formed on the cruise, which were inconvenient for the main altar to exist there. The architecture masters were summoned to rule and everyone agreed that there was no obstacle in placing the main altar under the dome and even in passing the choir to the north side on that main altar and the altar of the Kings. Thus, when it seemed that this new provision was going to be adopted, in view of so many favorable documents, the Cathedral Council decided to pass the matter to the master of ceremonies, ordering him to say if there was any inconvenience in adopting the new provision.. The master of ceremonies spoils everything that had been elaborated before. In your opinion, that we reproduce in the Appendix, there are reasons that were of capital importance at that time: first, in all Spanish cathedrals the choir is in the same place where it had been established in Mexico. It may or may not destroy the architectural aspect of the building, but the Spanish liturgy requires the choir to occupy that space of the nave. It cannot be moved to the north side or suppressed the corridor called the creaking, because there are ceremonies in the Catholic cult that require that the canons sometimes go in procession from the choir to the main altar and vice versa, for greater decorum and sumptuousness of worship, which could not be obtained if the choir were immediately to the main altar on the north side. The reasons of the master of ceremonies were overwhelming and no one dared to oppose that the main altar was built as planned, according to the contract we have studied. It was built then and was released on August 15, 1673.

We do not keep this primitive altar but the data obtained from your contract. Given the time it was built, we assume that it would be a lush baroque style structure with its marble columns, exactly like the cypress seen in the Rosario chapel, in Puebla, which also boasts the same jasper columns; Baroque ornamentation based on Solomon columns with stewed wood sculptures. In the lower part, as we have seen, there were four discovered niches, with small domes and a larger one with the statues that appear in the contract.

This high altar lasted long years; At the beginning of the 18th century, as we mentioned when talking about the treasure of the Cathedral, four silver fronts were made for an ornament.

Time passed, the years passed and with them the change of taste in regard to art: the cypress that had seemed magnificent in the seventeenth century, seemed poor in the next century. The work of the altar of the Kings that had been developed from 1718, entrusted to a first-rate artist who had worked for the cathedral of Seville, Jerónimo de Balbás, influenced all the construction that was done inside the temple and Thus the old cypress was destroyed to raise another in the new style. The same architect Jerónimo de Balbás was the one who elaborated, but he undoubtedly takes advantage of part of the old cypress, because he left the jasper columns as can be seen in the lithographs that teach us how this second altar was. Instead of the Solomonic columns of the Baroque style, Balbás carves stipes; to the closed cornices of the previous style, the Sevillian replaces broken cornices of broken profiles that go up, down, completely alter the structure. Presumably, the four angular dome of the previous presbytery disappeared to leave only a large space in which the great silver tabernacle that the archbishop Bizarrón and Eguiarreta gave to the temple was placed.

The sculptures had the same invocation as those of the previous main altar and in the second body the image of the Assumption, in polychrome carving, could be seen on a group of clouds. The second body decreases considerably in relation to the first and the third is still narrower. Perhaps due to this form the name of cypress was given to this altar. Such designation is used only in the eighteenth century; in the former the one of the main altar was invariably used; but this form that really resembles that of one of these trees that seems to be a symbol of melancholy in the cemeteries, may have been the cause of the change of designation, and as the words are endowed with life that often exceeds the limits that in a In principle they were assigned, it was called cypress every altar that was isolated, although its shape was completely different.

In 1783 the main altar was quite damaged: Balbas had not taken into account the stability of his work and had overloaded it with structures; in addition, the jasper columns were extraordinarily heavy; Then the Cabildo called another architect to rule on what should be done. The architect was Isidoro Vicente de Balbás, of whom we have little news: who made the altarpieces of the parish of Santa Prisca in Tasco, who presented a project to finish the facade of our Cathedral, and nothing more. I suppose, given the dates of these works and the similarity of style with the works of Jerome, that it is a son of his who continued in New Spain the development of the work initiated by the Father. The opinion of Isidoro Vicente de Balbás is quite detailed and indicates what must be done to restore the cypress; mark what he knows about the work; indicates that it is necessary to repair the stipes and even details of the toilet, quite curious, refers, because it says that the system of “shaking” with a duster is the one that often destroys the details of the sculpture.

Undoubtedly, the advice of Balbas was successful, as the work persisted during the mid-nineteenth century. We can know how it was thanks to the fact that his image has been preserved in lithographs of the first half of that century, one of Gualdi that we reproduce in this book and another that gives more details, in which the solemn act of the emperor’s coronation is seen Iturbide。

But there is no doubt that, by the middle of the 19th century, this cypress had deteriorated greatly. Moreover, his style was not in accordance with what prevailed at the time. Academic art had invaded all the spirits; many chapels of the Cathedral had seen their old baroque or churrigueresque altarpieces lost to be replaced by neoclassical altars, made of wood or stucco, imitating marble, with golden fillets with poor quality gold: it was necessary to return to classical beauty; Churrigueresque altarpieces since the beginning of the century had been called “piles of golden firewood”, which was a reason for the Cathedral Council to wish to beautify its temple with a new cypress.

A distinguished Spanish architect who left much of his work in our country, Don Lorenzo de la Hidalga, flourished in Mexico at that time. No one better than him to build a new cypress. As there was no money for such work, which mattered many thousands of pesos, the Cabildo decided to melt the image of the Assumption of Our Lady made of gold and enamels, as well as the large silver lamp that hung in front of the altar of the Kings. It was not easy at that time to understand the nonsense and crime of art that entailed such a measure. Because a jewel like the image of the Assumption, patron of the temple, made especially for him, the year of 1610, in an insurmountable way, was something that should have been respected.

The lamp, from a much later factory, did not have the merit of the image, but in any case it was something extraordinary for its magnitude, for its wealth, for its exceptional grandeur: both jewels and the Balbas cypress disappeared, which in itself was another jewel, to give rise to one of the most unfortunate works that have existed in our temple. We do not stop thinking that if these jewels had been preserved at that time, they would have disappeared when the treasure of the temple disappeared, that is undoubted; we would not enjoy his contemplation today, but even the ancient cypress had been left, which in itself was another jewel and that could have subsisted as the altar of the Kings subsists! Be that as it may, on April 8, 1847 Lorenzo de la Hidalga began the work of the cypress tree and concluded it three years later, at a cost of seventy-two thousand pesos.

It is interesting, since this work became a historical memory, that we give details about it. The stonework part was in charge of Miguel López 3; Mr. Pablo González worked as an officer. The altars tables were carved in the stone we call chiluca and the cypress in stonework. It consisted of two circular bodies much smaller in diameter the second than the first, which affected him too much. The lower body consisted of a staircase with pedestals in which eight statues were seen: San Pedro, San Pablo, San José, San Juan Bautista, Santiago el Mayor, San Felipe de Jesús, San Hipólito and San Casiano. On the stairway a circular plane basement was moved with highlights that correspond to the statues and in those highlights columns that support the second body.

Inside the first body there was a structure formed of four pilasters with arches that followed the curvilinear profile. Such structure constituted the most serious error of this cypress, because if the columns had simply been left, it would have presented an aspect of airiness and elegance that the heavy interior structure completely took away. On the columns there was a heavy entablature and on it an attic, also heavy, with eight other statues that included Santo Domingo de Guzmán, San Francisco de Asís, San Agustín, San Bernardo, San Cayetano, San Felipe de Neri, San Camilo de Lelis and San Ignacio de Loyola. The sculptures were completely out of scale, as they seemed larger than those of the lower body.

The second body rested on the attic with a heavy basement on which four pilasters were erected that support arches and, crowning everything, as if spilling over the structure, a group of the Assumption of Our Lady that was the work of the sculptor Don José María Moreno.

To this heavy structure made of inferior material, because it was simply stucco and plaster, four angels were still added resting in groups of clouds, executed by the same Don José María Miranda and paid at one thousand pesos each by Don Francisco Ontiveros, to whom It is called the last benefactor of the Cathedral. We have already said that one of his innumerable services was to destroy the tapincerán bars of the chapels and replace them with miserable leaded iron bars. This was the benefit he made to this altar: to make it heavier, adding four angels on clusters of clouds that were at hand height, something that no colonial architect would have dared to do.

The altar was released on August 15, 1850. On the occasion of the restoration of the temple the altar has been demolished, which has caused censorship by people who would like to keep it for reasons that are neither artistic nor historical. Undoubtedly, the Cathedral, like any church, must preserve its creations, even if they are the product of different periods: there is perhaps, but exceptionally, a temple that appears with a homogeneity such that it can be said that its elements were all built in a historical moment. But, if we have lamented that the altar of Balbas was destroyed to be replaced by that of De la Hidalga, we cannot make the same observation when we deal with the destruction of this last altar, because, although it was different in spirit and style The rest of the building, if its merit could be equated with any of the existing works, could be justified and even be preserved.

Such is for example the case of the cypress of the cathedral of Puebla, concluded some years before that of Mexico was started; his idea, his materials, his execution offer so many qualities, that it would be a true crime destroyed. But if the cypress of Mexico can be replaced by a work that harmonizes with the simplicity of the Renaissance structure and that, within its humility, allows it to enjoy the breadth of the ships and the cruise, it seems very justified, since with his disappearance does not lose anything, replace it with another work, not to pretend to be better, but simply less defective.

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.