The Choir, Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral

The choir stalls are made in an excellent tapincerán carving. It has two levels of seats: the high for canons and the low for six and sochantres. In the upper part it presents 59 reliefs of bishops and saints made in mahogany , walnut , cedar and tepehuaje . The choir stalls were made by Juan de Rojas between 1696 and 1697. It was also damaged in the 1967 fire.

In the center of the choir, between the fence and the stalls, is a mahogany facistol, adorned with ivory figures, one of which is a crucifix that crowns the entire work. It is used to hold the singing books, and is made up of three bodies.

The cover of the choir and the creak were made according to the design of the painter Nicolás Rodríguez Juárez under the supervision of sangley Quiauló. The gate of the choir was made in 1722 Sangley Queaulo . He built it in Macau , China, using tumbaga and calain . It was released in 1730 replacing a previous wooden one.

The Choir of the Cathedral
The primitive Cathedral of Mexico must have had a rather humble choir. However, from the documents we have, it can be surmised that this choir occupied the same place the choirs occupy in the great cathedrals of Spain, that is, in the main nave, closing several sections of it immediately at the door of the feet of the church and that in the space so delimited the necessary chairs were formed to house the canons in the ceremonies inherent to the choir. We have already seen some information about the first choir of the old cathedral. We have also reviewed how in 1585, when the temple was completely repaired on the occasion of the third Mexican provincial council, a new choir was built whose chairs must have been magnificent given the time when it was built, in Renaissance style,

The old cathedral demolished in 1628, we don’t know how lucky the choir of this old temple has been. The new cathedral was not able to rebuild the old choir. Most likely, a provisional one has been made somewhere we don’t know.

Concluded in its architecture the new cathedral, it was necessary to build a choir that agreed with the sumptuousness of the new metropolitan temple. Later it was, and by far, the works of the main altar that we have reviewed before. Thus, it was only in January 1695 when it was proposed in the Cabildo of the Holy Church that a new choir be built. To achieve this purpose, the Cabildo organized a contest, as was customary at that time, for the master sculptors and notchers to present. Your projects and positions to perform the work. The edict that summoned these architects was given on January 28, 1695. 2 Several teachers presented projects for the same stalls, such as Tomás Juárez and Joaquín Rendón, but the auction was made in Juan de Rojas, who was spared two thousand pesos to start the work.

It is the stalls of the Cathedral of Mexico very remarkable work of baroque art that flourished at the time in the world. Of course, it cannot be compared with similar works that exist in the great Spanish cathedrals. So much so, that the Cabildo of the Cathedral of Mexico himself proposed to the friars of the convent of San Agustín to acquire the stalls they had carved for their choir, giving them a hundred thousand pesos of profit. The fact that this seating is less rich than it would be desirable, is based on the financial conditions that the Cabildo de México imposed for this work, but not on the inability of the architects to carry out more sumptuous works. Considered as the choir of the Cathedral of Mexico, it is quite decorous in the style that is observed in its other parts.

It consists of two rows of seats. The tall ones, separated by Solomonic columns surrounded by vines, show in each intercolumn a half-relief sculpture that appears golden on the background of the natural color of the wood. We do not know if this gold is contemporary with the choir or has been added later. We were almost inclined to believe the latter, because there are no works of the colonial era that presented that golden contrast with the original wood, the stew was used, more in accordance with the Spanish realistic spirit, which is not a somewhat modern decoration.

The wall that closes the choir on the side of the altar of forgiveness is covered, at its end, by a beautiful painting of blue tones reminiscent of El Greco, which represents “The Apocalypse.” Juan Correa was the author of this great canvas and its conclusion was made before the stalls were carved, because by a testimony issued on June 20, 1684, it is ordered “that the making judges pay Juan Correa Master of the painter the cost and price of the two canvases he painted for the frontispiece of the Choir. ”

The Facistol
Occupying the center of the choir is a magnificent facistol made of precious woods, tindal and ebony, adorned with beautiful ivory figurines. This work of art was worked in the Philippines and is due to the munificence of a lord archbishop of Manila who gave it to the Cathedral of Mexico.

According to the data that can be obtained from the documents of the cathedral archive, the most illustrious Dr. Manuel Antonio Rojo del Río, archbishop of Manila, wanted to give away and ordered to prepare in 1762 a rich facistol for the Cathedral of Mexico. The work was completed and shipped to New Spain, but the privateers who were always on the hunt for Spanish ships prevented their arrival and the ship in which they came had to return to Manila. On January 30, 1764, Mr. Rojo died, without having been able to fulfill his wish. Therefore, in clause forty-four of its testamentary disposition it orders that the facistol be in the care of Mr. Esteban Rojas, with the order to send it to Mexico on the first occasion. There were attempts to comply with this provision, because in a letter from Dr. Andrés José Rojo written on July 30, 1766 to V. Deán and Cabildo de México, it is said that “the frigate” San Carlos “that sails for the port of Acapulco drives the facistol. ”

We ignore if again the privateers prevented the realization of the much desired trip, because we can only assure that the final shipment took place on August 4, 1770, in the frigate “San José”. For this reason, the sender writes, referring to the facistol sausage: “Already, blessed be God, he is in a state of running his ratchets.”

With the very rich piece came a drawing that reproduces it and is signed like this: “Josephus Núñez Delineavit. – Year of 1766”, and a map with letters to be able to assemble it, with its precious calligraphic plant. Only the first and last of these pieces are preserved, because the map is sure to have been destroyed from both river and take it when they assembled the facistol.

We cannot assure you that José Núñez was the author of the work, since his drawing dates back four years after it was executed. However, it is possible that, having done it, the drawing was requested afterwards to send it to Mexico and the Cabildo knew what the architects in charge of putting it together were like and the same.

Work of exquisite taste, of fine guidelines and elegant profile, is worthy center of this magnificent choir.

Description of the Facistol

Creation of refined art can be said to be composed of three parts: the basement, the facistol itself and the auction. The basement consists of a foot or base of precious wood that is screwed to the floor of the choir. On this basement the first body is raised, that is the base of the work. It consists of a part that conforms to the classic canons in the moldings that surround it. In its four faces were sculpted signs with symbols and their frames reveal enormous French influence of Rococo style. In the four angles of this first body, four large S-shaped motifs appear inverted with the same French ornaments of the cartouches, and in them, in the horizontal part of the curve, four pyramids with their base and spheres. The second body is constituted properly the facistol. It is swivel on the base, so that from any place in the choir you can read in the great parchment books. It has a truncated pyramid shape with a large lower space to support the books, and their faces seem to be drawn in the fine wood that forms them with very subtle traceries.

The third body or auction has the form of a temple with four arches separated by multiple pilasters that form the attic and its complete entablature on which the auction rests. Such auction is nothing but the base on which rests the Holy Christ of ivory that crowns the work. It is decorated with ten preciously carved ivory figurines, as can be seen in the illustrations that accompany this description. Those in the lower part are the four doctors of the church; the ones above represent the evangelists. In the center of the dome that forms the third body, we admire the image of Our Lady and, finishing it all, Christ on the Cross. It is ivory work of extraordinary finesse, which teaches us how such precious material was made in the Philippine Islands, in the first third of the 18th century.

Gate of the Choir
With the documentation that fortunately exists in the archives of the Cathedral, you can write a monograph about this remarkable work of art that is the gate that closes the choir of the temple. Here, however, we will only give the necessary information to know its history.

When the chairs were finished, the choir was limited by a wooden fence similar to those that closed the chapels. Rich wood, tapincerán, similar to iron in hardness, worked finely around and with allegorical motifs in its auction as are the bars of all the cathedrals, surely.

However, that fence did not seem quite rich and so, in the town hall held on February 21, 1721, it was agreed that another fence be made “of iron or another metal which must be very exquisite.” Rationalist Don Sebastián Sanz was commissioned to understand the matter and send the necessary project. The following April 19, said Mr. informed that he had taken the measures of the height and width of the fence “and that Mr. Nicolás Rodríguez, master of painter made the map which, through the order given to him I had sent to the port of Acapulco to go to the Philippines to run according to and how and what another painter was doing to stay in the archive and what they were carrying for now were ten thousand pesos. ” The Gazette of Mexico of February of 1722 gives the news,

The captains Juan Domingo Nebra and Joseph Morales wrote on July 6, 1723, saying that the fence would cost seventeen thousand pesos. To these two illustrious Spaniards we owe the magnificent work. If they had not put all their efforts and advanced the money that was necessary, nothing would have been achieved: the Cabildo de México had given up its project.

Indeed, in the session of March 9, 1724, it is said that seven thousand pesos had been given to Don Antonio Romero, who goes to the Philippines; they agree that the fence be recognized in Manila according to the map, but that if it is not done it is no longer done and that the money be brought in two naos.

Fortunately, it was late: in the town hall of February 17, 1725, a testimony authorized by the notary Juan de Sierra and Ossorio was read in the town of Rosario, on July 7, in which he certifies having seen twenty-five drawers with various thick bars and thin that belong to the gate of the choir of the Cathedral of Mexico. These twenty-five drawers did not contain any part of the fence: the total was one hundred and twenty-five between drawers and bundles that had arrived in Manila from Macao, aboard a patache, on June 28, 1724.

Once the fence was in Manila, the commissioners were not at all reluctant to ship it to New Spain and one of them, Captain Nebra, writes to the Cabildo and gives us beautiful news: it comes from the captain nao called “Our Lady of Sorrows” “and he says” to bring said perfect and fulfilled grating, minus two small leaves that when they embarked fell into the sea “in the port of Cavite and that did not seem as much due diligence, as divers as other means. “Said grating,” Nebra continues, “has cost forty-six thousand, three hundred and eighty pesos in the port of Acapulco, as it is contained in the attached letter (account). And although the sum seems to have grown, but the work is of that kind, since his driving to Mexico was very delicate. The Cabildo sent for her to the distinguished sculptor Jerónimo de Balvás, who, as we have seen, many years ago was identified with the work of our great temple.

As good as Captain Nebra’s reasons were, the difference between ten and seven thousand pesos that the gate would cost, and forty-six thousand three hundred that it cost, was no small matter. The Cabildo must have jumped. In addition, the difference that they had generously supplied in Manila and that it was forced to pay was owed. Then a testimonial information was made in which all the declarants are satisfied that the fence is magnificent, that the money was supplied and that a Potosí is worth it. Enough complementary news are found in the statements, but the most valuable is what gives us the name of the Asian architect, hitherto unknown, who worked on this preciousness.

Statement by Captain Don Antonio Correa: “Since the last year that he was in that city of Macán he heard from many reliable people in it that the lattice of different metals that by the hand of said Captain Quiauló Sangley, has been manufactured, has been a stunning work in estimation and very unique although it has been achieved at the expense of many pesos. ”

From before, to justify their arguments, and to be paid by the many monies owed to them, the same captains Juan Domingo Nebra and Joseph de Morales wrote a letter that the Cabildo received in 1725. In it they say: “on the occasion of having gone Macán to consecrate the auxiliary Bishop of Zebu, saw the work of the grating and says that there was no other more excellent in Europe and the same assure us the missionaries who saw it and that from the court of the Emperor of China came down different mandarins to to see it and they were admired, whose news and having found it verified with the part that has come serves us of particular pleasure. ”

As clear as the artist Nicolás Rodríguez Juárez project seemed, the Macau architects did not understand it and, thus, it was necessary for a Franciscan Italian friar to explain the characteristics of this fence in their own language. It was done in luxury, but either the Asians did not understand or there was malevolence on their part, because when he arrived in Mexico it was seen that the fence was large. The colonial architect who shortened and installed it was Jerónimo de Balbás, who had gone through it to Acapulco, measured the middle fence more wide and, according to tradition, with the fragments that were left over when shortened, countless people sent rings that that’s why they were called “tumbagas”.

The premiere took place on March 1, 1730 and the architect Anzorena, in his work cited above, gives us a good description of this work. He says: “The gate of the choir is of tumbaga and caláin, having been built in China in the City of Macao. Its width is fifteen and a half yards; its height in the center, eleven and three quarters, and in the rest, eight and three quarters, said fence is composed of a pedestal of five quarters with their respective moldings; on the pedestal rests an attic base; and on it the pedestals rise a quarter of a quarter wide, and four rods two thirds high, being the first two striated thirds, and the last one up to the capital adorned with caláin in the form of some festoons with bunches of engraved grapes.The capitals are Ionic, two being immediate to the door and the other two in the extremities. There are two other pilasters that have balloons in their midst.In the intervals of these pilasters there are forty-four balusters of cylindrical and conical figure, with caláin touches.

The door is half a point and well proportioned, and has twelve baluster s equal to those of the fence. Above the door is a composite cornice that crowns this body, in which there are the same number of balusters and six pilasters of a tall rod. In the middle and on the main cornice, there is a pediment with 2 heads of seraphim, one that looks inside the choir, and another one outside. On the cornice, of this second body, and in the middle of total length, the auction is formed with a five-quarter-high ellipse, adorned with openwork cresting and caláin reliefs; in it, in the form of a medal, the Assumption of Our Lady is placed on a throne of clouds, accompanied by angels and seraphim, and on the upper part Jesus Christ crucified; and at the ends perpendicular to the two intermediate pilasters at the doors, on their pedestals, the images of the good and bad thief. The remainder of the intervals is divided on each side, in two equal parts with the intermediate pilaster, which ends with a pedestal on which a caláin pineapple sits, and other pyramidal finishes, concluding the whole on both sides with circles bells. “These bell discs are called” alleluia “because they are played on the occasions when the” Alleluia is sung. ”

Choir Books
An indispensable complement to the choir are: a lectern that is placed near the seat of the archbishop, which is the one that is preserved in the treasure of the Cathedral and we will describe in its time, and the choir books that serve so that the canons can sing the songs prescribed by the ritual since its characters are very large.

Those books, part of which still exists in the temple, and others, the most artistic, which have been preserved in the Religious Museum, will be described when we deal with the artistic treasure of our great temple, as they constitute one of the most valuable medals that preserves the monument for its capitulants and miniatures.

The cathedral has had several organs in its history. The first time it is known of its existence is a written report to the king of Spain in 1530, although details of it do not appear. In 1655, Diego de Sebaldos built an organ. The first great organ was built by Jorge de Sesma in Madrid in 1690 and was inducted into the cathedral by Tiburcio Sanz in 1695. The two current organs of the cathedral were built in Mexico by the Spanish José Nassarre between 1734 and 1736. In the organ of the Epistle, Nassarre reused elements of the organ of Jorge de Sesma. In the fire of 1967 they suffered important damages, reason why they were restored in 1978 and later restored between 2008 and 2014 by Gerhard Grenzing .

The organs are placed on the choir; they cover two of the great arches of the main nave, also overlooking the processional ones. Its structure is baroque with great French influence, since in its ornaments you can see the finely worked rocaille. They date from the 18th century, as they were finished in 1736. The Gazette of Mexico on October 23 of that year informs us of the following: “The two sumptuous organs of this Metropolitan were delivered, and each one consists of exquisite and well carved box of exquisite woods, it is seventeen yards high and eleven wide, and making a seat in the beautiful gallery fills all that gap and rises to the top of the half point that corresponds to the site;

The author of the organ on the side of the Gospel was Don José Nasarre, who completely reformed the one that existed earlier on the side of the Epistle. Sáenz Aragón finished it.

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.