The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heavens 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.
Background: The Greater Church
After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire, and after the return of Hernán Cortés from the exploration of present-day Honduras, the conquerors decided to build a church in the place where the Main Temple of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán was located to, from In this way, consolidate Spanish power over the newly conquered territory. There is evidence of the existence of a large major temple dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl, a temple dedicated to the god Huitzilopochtli and other minor buildings.
The architect Martín de Sepúlveda was the first director of the project between 1524 and 1532, while Juan de Zumárraga was the first bishop of the episcopal headquarters in the New World. The Zumárraga cathedral was in the northeast part of what is the current cathedral. It had three naves separated by Tuscan columns, the central roof had intricate engravings made by Juan Salcedo Espinosa and gold by Francisco de Zumaya and Andrés de la Concha. The main door was probably Renaissance style. The choir had 48 seats made by hand by Adrián Suster and Juan Montaño in wood ofayacahuite. For the construction, they used the stones of the destroyed temple of the god Huitzilopochtli, god of war and principal deity of the Aztecs.
In spite of everything, this temple was soon considered insufficient for the growing importance of the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. This first church was elevated to cathedral by King Carlos I of Spain and Pope Clement VII according to bula of the 9 of September of 1534 and later metropolitan appointed by Paul III in 1547.
This small, poor church, vilified by all the chroniclers who deemed it unworthy of such a large and famous city, rendered its services bad for many years. Very soon it was ordered that a new temple be built, of proportionate sumptuousness to the greatness of the Colony more, more this new factory encountered so many obstacles to its beginning, with so many difficulties for its prosecution, that the old temple saw passing in its ships narrow sumptuous ceremonies of the viceroyalty; and only when the fact that motivated them was of great importance, would another church, such as that of San Francisco, be chosen to raise the burial mound for the funeral of Carlos V in its enormous chapel of San José de los Indios.
Seeing that the conclusion of the new church was long, its factory was beginning, the year of 1584 it was decided to completely repair the old cathedral, which would undoubtedly be little less than ruinous, to celebrate the third Mexican Council.
The church was little more than the front of the new cathedral; its three ships did not reach 30 meters wide and were roofed, the central one with a half-scissors armor, those on the sides with horizontal beams. In addition to the door of Forgiveness there was another call from the Canons, and perhaps a third was left to the place of the Marquis. Years later, the cathedral was small for its function. In 1544, the ecclesiastical authorities had already ordered the construction of a new and more sumptuous cathedral.
Start of the work
Almost all the American cathedrals of this first Renaissance era follow the model of that of Jaén, whose first stone was laid in 1540. Rectangular in plan and, at most with the Ochavada chapel, are the cathedrals of Mexico, Puebla,.. (…) He was mainly inspired by the 1540 Jaén Cathedral, with a rectangular plan and flat head, although it is likely that he would also be seduced by the Valladolid Herrera model, the relationship between the Valladolid cathedral, projected in 1580, with the American cathedrals it has not been sufficiently taken into account.
Extracted from Hispanic American Art (1988).
In 1552, an agreement was reached whereby the cost of the new cathedral would be shared by the Spanish crown, the commenders and the Indians under the direct authority of the archbishop of New Spain. The initial plans for the foundation of the new cathedral began in 1562, within the project for the construction of the work, the then archbishop Alonso de Montúfar would have proposed a monumental construction composed of seven ships and based on the design of the Cathedral of Seville; a project that in the words of Montúfar himself would take 10 or 12 years. The weight of a work of such dimensions in a subsoil of marshy origin would require a special foundation. Initially cross beams were placed to build a platform, something that required high costs and a constant drain, in the end said project would be abandoned not only because of the aforementioned cost, but because of the floods suffered by the city center. It is then that, supported by indigenous techniques, solid wood piles are injected at great depth, around twenty thousand of these piles in an area of six thousand square meters. The project is reduced from the original seven ships to only five: one central, two processional and two lateral for the 16 chapels. Construction began with the designs and models created byClaudio de Arciniega and Juan Miguel de Agüero, inspired by the Spanish cathedrals of Jaén and Valladolid.
In 1571, with some delay, Viceroy Martín Enríquez de Almansa and Archbishop Pedro Moya de Contreras laid the first stone of the current temple. The cathedral began to be built in 1573 around the existing church that was demolished when the works advanced enough to house the basic functions of the temple.
The work began with a north-south orientation, contrary to that of most cathedrals, this due to the subsoil gouges that would affect the building with a traditional east-west orientation. First the chapter room and the sacristy were built; the construction of the vaults and the ships took a hundred years.
The beginning of the works was found in a muddy and unstable terrain that complicated the works, due to this, the tezontle and the chiluca stone were favored as building materials in several areas, on the quarry, being these lighter ones. In 1581, the walls began to be erected and in 1585 the work began in the first chapel, at that time the names of the stonecutters who worked on the work were: Juan Arteaga worked in the chapels and Hernán García de Villaverde encasaments, who also worked on the pillars whose half samples were sculpted by Martín Casillas. In 1615 the walls reached half of their total height. The interior works began in 1623for the sacristy, the primitive church being demolished. The 21 of September of 1629, the works were interrupted by the flood that struck the city, where the water reached two meters high, causing damage to what is now the Plaza of the Constitution and other parts of the city. Because of the damage, a project was started to build the new cathedral in the hills of Tacubaya, west of the city but the idea was discarded and the project continued in the same location, under the direction of Juan Gómez de Trasmonte.
Archbishop Marcos Ramírez de Prado y Ovando made the second dedication on December 22, 1667, the year in which the last vault was closed. At the date of consecration, (lacking, at that time, bell towers, main facade and other elements built in the eighteenth century ), the cost of what was built was equivalent to 1 759 000 pesos. This cost was largely covered by the kings of Spain Felipe II, Felipe III, Felipe IV and Carlos II. Annexes to the central core of the building would be added over the years the Seminary College, the Chapel of the animas, and the buildings of the Tabernacle and the Curia.
In 1675 the central part of the main facade was completed, the work of the architect Cristóbal de Medina Vargas, which included the figure of the Assumption of Mary, an invocation to which the cathedral is dedicated, and the sculptures of Santiago el mayor and San Andrés guarding. During the remainder of the 17th century, the first body of the eastern tower is built, designed by the architects Juan Lozano and Juan Serrano. The main cover of the building and those of the east side were built in 1688 and that of the west in 1689. The six buttresses that support the structure by the side of its main facade and the botareles that support the vaults of the main nave were completed. During the eighteenth century little was done to advance in the term of the construction of the Cathedral; largely because, already concluded inside and useful for all the ceremonies that were offered, there was no urgent need to continue working on what was missing.
Although the work had been suspended in fact, some works inside continued; by 1737 he was a major teacher Domingo de Arrieta. He made, in the company of José Eduardo de Herrera, architecture teacher, the stands surrounding the choir. In 1742 Manuel de Álvarez, architecture teacher, ruled with the same Herrera about the presbytery project presented by Jerónimo de Balbás.
In 1752, on September 17, a cross of iron was placed on the crown of the dome of this Church, of more than three rods, with its weather vane, engraved on either side of the Sanctus Deus prayer, and in the middle of it an oval of a quarter, in which Agnus wax with its stained glass window was placed on the one hand and on the other side a sheet in which Mrs. Santa Prisca, a lawyer for lightning, was sculpted. The spike of this cross is of two rods and all its weight of fourteen arrobas; he stuck himself in a stone base.
In 1787, the architect José Damián Ortiz de Castro was appointed, after a contest in which the projects of José Joaquín de Torres and Isidro Vicente de Balbás were imposed, to direct the construction works of the bell towers, the main facade and the Dome. For the construction of the towers, the Mexican architect Ortiz de Castro designed a project to make them effective against earthquakes; a second body that seems openwork and a bell-shaped auction. His direction in the project continued until his death in 1793. Moment in which he was replaced by Manuel Tolsá, architect and sculptor driving the Neoclassical, who arrived in the country in 1791. Tolsa is responsible for completing the work of the cathedral. Rebuild the dome that was low and disproportionate, design a project that consists of opening a larger ring on which builds a circular platform, to raise a much higher lantern from there. Integra the flames, statues and balustrades. Crown the facade with figures that symbolize the three theological virtues (Faith, hope and charity).
The cathedral in independent Mexico
Once the independence of Mexico was concluded, the cathedral was soon the scene of important chapters in the history of the new country. Being the main religious center and seat of ecclesiastical power, it was part of different events that involved the public life of independent Mexico.
The 21 of July of 1822 the coronation ceremony was held Agustin de Iturbide as Emperor of Mexico. Early twenty-four canyons sounded, balconies were adorned and the facades of public buildings were adorned, as well as atriums and church portals. Two thrones were placed in the cathedral, the main one next to the presbyter and the minor one near the choir. Shortly before nine o’clock in the morning, the members of Congress and the City Council occupied their destined places. Troops of cavalry and infantry made fence to the future emperor and his entourage. Three bishops officiated mass. The president of the Congress, Rafael Mangino, was in charge of placing the crown on Agustín I, then the emperor himself wrapped the crown to the empress. Other badges were imposed on the newly crowned by generals and bridesmaids, Bishop Juan Cruz Ruiz de Cabañas y Crespo exclaimed Vivat Imperator in aeternum! “Long live the emperor and the empress!” After the ceremony, the ringing of the bells and the crash of the cannons informed the people that the coronation had been accomplished.
In 1825 the heads of Miguel Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama and Mariano Jiménez, rescued and sheltered after having hung in front of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in Guanajuato, were transferred from the Parish of Santo Domingo to the Metropolitan Cathedral in a solemn procession. The march of the skulls protected in an urn covered with black velvet was accompanied by the ringing of the bells, the voices of the Cabildo Choir and the brotherhoods that were then responsible for the chapels of the Cathedral. Months before, those same skulls hung in front of the Alhondiga and now the archbishopPedro José de Fonte and Hernández Miravete gave authorization that the Jubilee Gate of the enclosure be opened wide to receive the so-called ‘heroes’ of Independence.
The remains of José María Morelos, Francisco Javier Mina, Mariano Matamoros and Hermenegildo Galeana were also received. The remains were placed in the Crypt of the Archbishops and Viceroys and at that time it was written: “To the honorable remains of the magnanimous and impertérritos caudillos, parents of Mexican freedom, and victims of perfidy and nepotism, the crying homeland and grateful erected this public monument ”.
However, there they did not stay long; around 1885, by orders of then President Porfirio Díaz Mori, the remains were taken from the Cathedral and then, again, were taken in procession to the cathedral grounds, but this time, the procession was headed by the President of the Republic, City Hall Ministers and Secretaries, civil authorities, popular organizations, Mexican flags and lay banners that reflected the character of the time. Once again, the Jubilee Gate saw the heroes of the Fatherland parade, although this time without Morelos.
Then they were placed in the Chapel of San José, and there they were about forty years until in 1925 they left the Cathedral to be placed at the base of the Column of the Angel of Independence on Paseo de la Reforma. The Mexican government did not take the body, however, of Agustín de Iturbide, who remains in the Chapel of San Felipe de Jesús.
Being Archbishop of Mexico José Lázaro de la Garza y Ballesteros, he pronounced against the Reform Laws contained in the Constitution of 1857. In March 1857, he declared during a sermon that the new laws were “hostile to the Church.” On April 17, he sent a circular to all the priests of his diocese “preventing the faithful who had sworn the constitution from being acquitted without prior public retraction.” His position was heard by many employees who refused to swear the Magna Carta, who were dismissed from their posts by the Mexican government. In different parts of the country, different pronouncements and armed uprisings were carried out under the cry of “Religion and fueros”.
Consequently, Mexican society was divided into two factions. The liberals who supported the reforms to the Constitution and the conservatives who detracted it by supporting the clergy. The War of Reform broke out in the Mexican territory, establishing two governments. On the one hand the Constitutional in charge of Benito Juárez and promulgated by a Board of the Conservative Party under the command of Félix María Zuloaga. The 23 of January of 1858 the Conservative government was formally established, the liberal government had to escape from the capital. The Archbishop officiated a mass in the Cathedral and to celebrate the event theTe deum. On February 12, De la Garza sent a letter to the interim president Zuloaga to congratulate his government officially and give him his support.
During much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a number of different factors influenced a partial loss of his artistic heritage; The natural deterioration of time was added, the generational changes in taste, fires, thefts, but also the lack of a regulatory framework and an awareness for the conservation of the property and its properties, of course, both by the authorities ecclesiastical as governmental. In this way both entities made use of artistic treasures to solve the consequences of political and economic instability in the country. For example, silver lamps and music stands, as well as gold vessels and other jewels were melted to finance the wars of the mid-19th century. The change in artistic fashion also influenced when the main altar of the 17th century was replaced with aBaroque cypress in the 18th century made by Jerónimo de Balbás; which was replaced by Lorenzo de la Hidalga’s neoclassical style and removed to improve the visibility of the Altar of the Kings in 1943.
The December to June of 1864 was part of the lavish reception in Mexico City of the emperors Maximilian of Hapsburg and Carlota Amalia, who attended a Mass of thanksgiving in the building that day.
As part of the series of events that led to the unleashing of the Cristero War, on February 4, 1926, a protest was published in the newspaper El Universal declared by Archbishop José Mora y del Río nine years earlier against the new Constitution, but the note was presented as new news, that is, as if it were a recent statement. On the orders of President Calles – who considered the declaration a challenge to the Government – Mora y del Río was consigned to the Attorney General’s Officeand stopped; several temples were closed, among them the same Cathedral and the foreign priests were expelled. Constitutional article 130 was regulated as the Law of Cults (better known as the Streets Law ), religious schools were closed and the number of priests was limited so that only one officiated for every six thousand inhabitants. On June 21, 1929, during the presidency of Emilio Portes Gil, the Church and the Government signed the arrangements that put an end to the hostilities in the Mexican territory, with which the premises were reopened.
The 26 of January of 1979 received for the first time in history the visit, a high priest of the Catholic Church, the Pope John Paul II, who in the midst of a rally, offered a historic mass in which would give one of his you celebrate phrases: Mexico always faithful! be until the 13 of February of 2016 that would succeed another visit by a maximum Catholic leader, when Pope Francis attended a meeting with all the bishops of the dioceses of Mexico.
The night of the 15 of September of 2010 was one of the main scenes of the celebrations of the bicentennial; a multimedia show of images and sound projected on its main facade, accompanied by fireworks, was the closing of the main events in the capital Zócalo.
On January 17, 1967, a short circuit generated a major fire in the cathedral. On the altar of forgiveness, part of the structure and decoration was lost, as well as the paintings La Santa Faz by Alonso López de Herrera, El Martirio de San Sebastián by Francisco de Zumaya and La Virgen del Perdón by Simon Pereyns. In the choir, 75 of his 99 seats, a painting by Juan Correa and many books that were in it were lost. The two organs of the cathedral were very damaged by partially melting their tubes. In other parts of the cathedral, outstanding paintings by Rafael Ximeno y Planes, Juan Correa andJuan Rodriguez Juarez. Four years after the fire, in 1972, the restoration works of the cathedral began, to restore its original appearance.
The altars of forgiveness and kings were cleansed and restored. In the Altar of Forgiveness, several paintings were added that replaced the burned ones, The Escape from Egypt, The Divine Face and The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, all works by Pereyns. In addition, 51 paintings were found, works by Nicolás and Juan Rodríguez Juárez, Miguel Cabrera and José de Ibarra, hidden behind the altar. The organs were dismantled and sent to the Netherlands where they were repaired in a process that lasted until 1977. Inside one of the bodies was found a copy of 1529 of the appointment of Hernán Cortés as governor of New Spain. The choir was rebuilt in 1979. Outside, some of the statues were repaired or replaced by replicas due to the damage they presented to the contamination. On the wall of the central arch of the cathedral he was found the tomb of President Miguel Barragan.
The construction of the cathedral on unstable ground led to problems since the beginning of the works. The cathedral, along with the rest of the city, sinks into the lake bed since the beginning of its construction. This process accelerated due to the overexploitation of underground aquifers by the huge population that lives there. This fact caused the sinking to different rhythms in different sections of the cathedral, thus, the bell towers, presented a dangerous inclination in the 1970s. In 1990, work began to stabilize the cathedral, although it was built on a solid base, This was located in turn on a soft clay soil that was a threat to its structural integrity, since a subsidence was suffered on the lower water tables, causing damage to the structure. Therefore, the cathedral was included in the World Monuments Fund as one of the hundred sites at greatest risk. After the stabilization and completion of the works, the cathedral was removed from that list in 2000. Between 1993 and 1998, work was carried out that helped stabilize the building. Wells were excavated under the cathedral and concrete shafts were placed that provided a stronger base for the building. This did not stop the sinking but it does ensure that it is uniform. In addition, the inclination of the towers was corrected.
Along with the structural rescue of the building, remodeling, conditioning and rescue work was also initiated inside the architectural complex, with the Altar de los Reyes standing out, which was carried out in collaboration with the government of Spain.
Manuel Tolsá y Sarrión, was born in Enguera, Valencia, on May 4, 1757. He was a well-known Spanish architect and sculptor, active in New Spain (today Mexico) between 1791 and 1825, where he served as Director of Sculpture of the Academy from San Carlos.
He studied in Valencia at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Carlos and at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. He was a disciple of Ribelles, Gascó and Gilabert in architecture. He was a sculptor of the king’s chamber, minister of the Board of Commerce, Currency and Mines and academic in San Fernando. He arrived in New Spain in 1791 with books, work instruments and copies of classical sculptures of the Vatican Museum. He married nuptials with María Luisa de Sanz Téllez Girón and Espinosa in the port of Veracruz.
Upon arrival, the city council commissioned him to supervise the drainage and water supply works of Mexico City and the reforestation of the Alameda Central. For these services he received no compensation. Then he dedicated himself to the different artistic and civil works for which he remembers. In addition, he made furniture, melted cannons, opened a bathhouse and a car factory and installed a ceramic oven. He died from a gastric ulcer, in Las Lagunas, Oaxaca, on December 25, 1816. He was buried in the pantheon of the Oaxaca temple.
Works by Manuel Tolsá in Mexico
Conclusion of the works of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City.
Palace of Mining.
Equestrian statue of Carlos IV “El Caballito”.
Former Palace of Buenavista (now the National Museum of San Carlos).
Palace of the Marquis del Apartado. In front of the main temple.
Main altar of the Cathedral of Puebla
Main altar of the church of Santo Domingo.
Main altar of the church of La Profesa.
Altar of the Immaculate Conception in the church of La Profesa.
Bust of Hernán Cortés at the Hospital de Jesús.
Bronze Christs found in the Morelia Cathedral.
Projection of the fourth stage (neoclassical) of the Loreto church.
Hospicio Cabañas plans in Guadalajara.
Marquise de Selva Nevada cell in the former convent of Regina Porta Coeli. Today owned by the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana.
Tolsá has as a seal, the placement of balustrades at the end of the buildings where he worked.
The Cathedral of Mexico and Tolsá
Seat and chair of the bishop, the Cathedral is one of the most important buildings in sociological terms since it represents religious authority in New Spain, and one of the main reasons to justify the conquest of the country. On the other hand, it shows the temporary wealth of the clergy throughout the colonial era.
The primitive Cathedral was in the southwest corner of the current atrium. It was small, simple, with a wooden structure. Cortés laid the first stone. But the current Cathedral is the work of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, mainly, but also the fourteenth. All the styles of the Colony are reflected in this work. Infinite architects, important and mediocre, intervened in his works (with the fire of January 1967, this intervention has been prolonged). Some advocated contemporary restoration – modifying some elements – and others wanted the identical restitution of the choir, stalls and damaged parts. The latter was what was done.
The Cathedral is huge: it is more than 100 meters long and 60 meters wide, the towers reach the height of 64 meters. It has five naves: the two lateral ones, with terraced altars, in which mass is celebrated, and the two processional ones, around the central one, closed by the huge choir, with an altar in the transept that was covered by the baroque cypress churrigueresque of Gerónimo de Balbas, already destroyed, and later of the neoclassical cypress of the architect Lorenzo de la Hidalga, of magnificent invoice, in spite of what the critics say, also destroyed, without any fuss of the clergy and historians.
The Veracruz architect Damián Ortiz de Castro was the major master of the works upon the arrival of Tolsá in Mexico. This architect had finished the very original and well-proportioned towers, the dome drum and various interior works.
When Ortiz de Castro died, he inherited the title and position of Don Manuel Tolsá in 1793, that is, three years after his arrival in Mexico. Fact that confirms the importance at that time of being peninsular Spanish, regardless of the desires of our artist.
Tolsá receives the Cathedral in its last stage of construction, and finishes it splendidly. It gives the work “an aspect of something complete, complete,” says Manuel Toussaint.
The Valencian architect, with great talent, realizes the state of the work, its diversity of styles and the relatively ungrateful problem of intervening in something almost finished. But it demonstrates here its enormous power of observation and its spatial understanding, since the body is solid, and it would be heavy if it were not for the great width of the church. On the other hand, the huge towers almost “eat” the whole. It was therefore necessary to underline the entry, especially that the work is symmetrical in its forms.
On the main facade it places a huge volume so that it reaches the height of the starting of the towers, and with it it manages to give unity to the main facade towards the Zócalo, as well as to remove rigidity when crowning it with three large sculptures and perfect proportion with the set, given the great height of the clock, after calculating the points from where they look. This is pure baroque.
In addition, it unifies facades, towers and buttresses by means of the unifying harmonic theme of the balustrades, which is repeated at the top, length and width of the entire Cathedral. The buttresses have inverted brackets that link the lower and middle part of the Cathedral. In the towers he continues to repeat his spatial theme: the balustrades and walls that support the florons; to insist even more on the importance of the balustrade, but also underline the supporting structure.
These flowers show their respect for the previous structure, and not as we have wanted to see, something ostentatious or simply ornamental; the positive thing is that it underlines the structural rhythm and gives relevance to the balustrades, which serve – as everyone recognizes – to grant unity to the group in which many architects had intervened during two hundred years of work.
The dome will be its great auction, since when raising the volume of the clock it was hidden and the clarity of the party was hidden or obscured: a T-shaped Latin cross plant, that is to say as the Christian cross, which has a greater arm than The one who crosses it.
The drum and dome projected by Damián Ortiz de Castro were correct, but with the increase of the clock, Tolsá warns that it is necessary to give the dome greater relevance: it is attached in stone half pilasters and frames the windows with Ionic columns that ends with very prominent pediments. With this he manages to give breadth to the dome, which seen from afar looks like a magnificent crown of the temple.
We would like to add that the recent stained glass windows by sculptor Mathias Goeritz in the windows of the Cathedral are excellent, in color and shape, and perhaps they should continue in the lantern.
The sculptures of the clock are works by Manuel Tolsá, perfectly proportioned to the architecture and with a very good baroque invoice.
In all the work the Tolsá baroque championship; advances and setbacks of space, be pediments and columns of the dome; Be it your ornamentation: the delightful repetition of flowers and boards is enriched with bulk sculptures and floral motifs.
He was born in Puebla on May 29, 1890. When he had just folded the cape, blue and gold, of the good hope that they are 30 years old, he was already learned in several disciplines; He had since then a vague, an indefinable sadness. His joys were like mist-shrouded, slight evening haze.
Manuel Toussaint is a gentleman of good and chosen garments; rested, calm and in all extended its softness. He preferred accuracy more than broken or tortuous lines; He was a friend of the clear and simple, of sober wealth. It was a neoclassical spirit. But although seated and of judgment, he had a restless and boisterous understanding and thus has an emotion wave before things, he embedded in them the heart and later described them with ideality, with delicate love.
Of great intellectual activity, there were no lazy breaks, but always he was busy between manuscripts and books and stirring ideas; I was already daily with the pen on paper composing essays, or stories, or serious studies of history; and this is how the ingenuity was polished by the exercise and became one of our avant-garde writers. He knew how to put his restlessness between the dust and the moths of mamotretos and infolios from where he was taking with exquisite tino kind and beautiful things. In his hands the document loses its curial coldness and makes it enjoyable.
The generous task of going through those peoples of God, diverted from all dealings and commerce with the big cities, and having such beautiful names as if they belonged to the spiritual geography of an artist writer was given for years; villages that seem to be out of time, in which life was stopped, as full of stupor, in the midst of the lights of the century, looking only towards the past with a long talk of nostalgia. And after these wanderings, he counts on a clean and flexible prose, of the abandoned churches, of the illustrious sanctuaries, of the great colonial mansions, of the convents in which humble servants of God and tall men lived, of the hermitages, humiliators and reposorios, of the old paintings that already put their colors in the transparent darkness of the patinas,
It should be noted that Toussaint in 1934 founded the Art Laboratory of the UNAM, later called the Institute of Aesthetic Research (IIE). He is the author of a magnificent and huge volume on a large folio, preciously illustrated, which contains the entire history of our great Cathedral, from the time he laid his first fundamental stone until Tolsá ended it, with all its ornaments and the splendor of its numerous riches Fruit of its fruitful runs through Europe lands, is another volume, hallucinated trips, of value for the very pleasant that they enclose between their pages. He wrote with great knowledge, the history of painting in Mexico, a beautiful book with beautiful graphic information. It unravels an infinite number of problems that had remained insoluble until Manuel Toussaint laid hands on them with great scholarship and talent.
Cathedral chapel masters during the viceroyalty
During the entire viceregal period the cathedral had an intense and brilliant musical activity organized by its corresponding chapel masters. These had the obligation not only to organize the ecclesiastical musical life of the cathedral for all major festivities, but also to instruct the corresponding musicians, compose the necessary musical works and organize the musical archives. The result of this constant activity is a delicious musical archive that competes in America with the splendid musical archive of the cathedral of Puebla, that of the Basilica of Guadalupe or the musical archives preserved in Cuzco or Chuquisaca. None of all these music files has been thoroughly studied and most of that music remains unpublished. Unfortunately, there is no contemporary attempt to continue the musical tradition of the Latin American cathedrals by playing the preserved collection or hiring composers who write new works. The chapel masters of the cathedral of Mexico of which works are mostly preserved in the cathedral archive were:
Juan Xuárez (1538-1556)
Lázaro del Álamo (1556-1570)
Juan de Victoria (1570-575)
Hernando Franco (1575-1585)
Juan Hernández (1586-1618)
Antonio Rodríguez de Mata (1619-1648)
Fabian Ximeno (1648-1654)
Francisco López y Capillas (1654-1673)
Hyacinth of the Vega Francisco Ponce (1673-h. 1676)
Joseph de Loaysa and Agurto (h. 1676-1688)
Antonio de Salazar (1688-1715)
Manuel de Sumaya (1715-1739)
Domingo Dutra and Andrade (1741-1750)
Ignatius of Jerusalem and Stella (1750-1769)
Mateo Tollis della Rocca (1769-1780)
Martín Bernárdez Rivera (1781-1791)
Antonio de Juanas (1791-1814)
Vicente Gómez Matheo Manterola (1815-1818?)
José María Bustamante and Eduardo Campuzano (1818-1821?)
José Mariano Elízaga (1822)
The musical archive of the cathedral of Mexico is one of the largest in America; It has a collection of more than 5000 works, covering from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, in various formats such as choir books, religious music, profane and musical treatises.