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- Address: Plaza de la Constitución s/n, Mexico City, Mexico
- Hours: Open daily 7am - 7pm
- Admission: Free
At the historic heart of one of the world's most populous cities, is the first and largest cathedral in the Americas, seat of the Archdiocese of Mexico, and a wonder to behold. The Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral - or Catedral Metropolitana - is a symphony in stone, composed over 4 centuries into manifold facades, displaying textbook Neoclassical, Renaissance, and wedding-cake ornate Mexican Baroque (Churrigueresque) styles.
Within its fantastic bulk are sheltered some 16 chapels, several alters and retablos, a fine parish church, and a choir, each an inspired work of art replete with gold gilt, fine paintings, and sculptural details. Above it all, 25 bells - measured in tons - ring and sing to the city all around.
The cathedral sits atop a far more ancient foundation, originally built for a temple to Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec God of war. His pyramid was destroyed by the Spanish, who built their cathedral in its stead. As the thirsty city emptied its underground aquifer, however, this massive monument began to sink into the subsoil. It was stabilized in the 1990s, but still lists to one side.
The Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral overlooks the Zócalo, more properly called Plaza de la Constitución, which has marked the city center since it was founded in 1325. Though the Spanish razed the neighborhood's original Aztec temples and federal buildings, they used the same stones to rebuild the capital city in Europe's image. Half a millennium later, this is still the center of all the action.
All roads lead to the Zócalo, but you're much better off without a car - traffic is terrible. Instead, take Metro Line 2 to the Zócalo stop, right in front of the cathedral.