AAA Editor Notes
Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana) is on the n. side of the Zócalo (M: Zócalo, line 2). This enormous church seems even bigger rising up from the vast expanse of the Zócalo. The original church built by Spanish missionaries was torn down in the early 17th century to make way for the cathedral, which took some 220 years to complete. The exterior is a blend of architectural styles, from baroque ornamentation to a neoclassic clock tower.
Four identical interior domes are supported by massive columns. Along the interior side aisles are five naves and 14 chapels, each dedicated to a saint and variously adorned with statuary, ornate altars, paintings, gilded surfaces, priceless tapestries and representations of Christ, including a black Christ figure. The Chapel of the Kings, at the end of the nave behind the main altar, is graced by gilded wood carvings and an extravagantly Churrigueresque altarpiece.
There are many colonial works of art on display, including a painting attributed to Spanish artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. The cathedral also contains the tomb of Mexican general Agustín de Iturbide. In this reverent setting, visitors should respect those who are there to worship.
All manner of crystals, herbs, gemstones and religious paraphernalia are sold in front of the main entrance. On the west side of the cathedral more vendors set up shop, selling everything from crafts to Mexican jumping beans, and laborers sit on the curb next to small signs advertising their trade.
A sound-and-light presentation, “Voices of the Cathedral,” features a candlelit walk through the interior led by actors in period costume and accompanied by choral music. The Reforma newspaper publishes the schedule of presentations every 3 months. Tickets are $25 (U.S.) and can be purchased through Ticketmaster; phone (55) 5325-9000.