Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral is built on land of a mystical origin. It was the crossroads of the four cardinal points, and the demarcation of the meeting points of the four original neighborhoods of ancient Tenochtitlan. It’s thus the spiritual center of the Aztec capital.
- It’s the first Cathedral to have been built in the Americas.
- The cathedral consists of two bell towers, a central dome, and three main portals.
- Its four façades contain portals flanked with columns and statues.
- There are five naves consisting of 51 vaults, 74 arches, and 40 columns.
- Commissioned by Hernán Cortés, he is said to have laid the first stone.
- It is built on top a small temple probably dedicated to Xitle or Quetzalcoatl, and next to the Templo Mayor, the Aztec’s most important religious site.
- The material for constructing the church was largely scavenged from the destroyed pyramids and structures.
- The church has been under constant construction, because the ground beneath it has sunk at least 10 meters.
- There is said to be a tunnel connecting the Cathedral with the remains of the Templo Mayor, next door.
- The basements of the Cathedral are said to contain the remains, or the very foundations of the ancient Pyramid of Tonatiuh.
- Beneath the present church, a stone is said to be the remains of an Aztec altar upon which human sacrifices were made.
- The cathedral bell towers can house up to 56 bells. At present, there are only 35.
- The Turriana Library, the second library in all of Mexico, was housed within the church.
- 14 of the cathedral’s 16 side-chapels are open to the public. Each 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.
- A crypt beneath the cathedral contains the remains of many former archbishops.
- The cathedral has approximately 150 windows.
The Metropolitan Cathedral is widely considered to be the highest point of Vice Regal and colonial art, architecture, and craftsmanship.
Guided tours are widely available as are trips up the bell towers and more.