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article imageThe Cathedral of Buenos Aires — Four centuries of construction Special

By Igor I. Solar     May 15, 2014 in Travel
Buenos Aires - With a long history of construction and decoration spanning over 400 years, the Cathedral of Buenos Aires has a mix of architectural styles including aspects of the Italian Renaissance, Baroque, French Neoclassical, and elements of the Corinthian order.
When the Spanish explorer Juan de Garay, governor of the Spanish Empire’s Province of Rio de La Plata founded Buenos Aires in 1580, as it was customary at the time, he allocated an important parcel in the new village for the construction of a temple from which priests would attend the spiritual needs of the soldiers and facilitate the conversion to Catholicism of the indigenous people, in this case the Querandíes, under the influence of the cross or the force of the sword.
A hut built of wood and mud bricks erected in the designated site was soon regarded by many as miserable and unsuitable. It was demolished in 1605. The parish that replaced it was poorly constructed and eventually collapsed in 1616. Three other buildings that followed, financed mainly by the parishioners, were badly constructed and because of the poor quality of materials and lack of skill of the masons, the precarious churches were either demolished or collapsed by themselves. In 1755 the construction of the current building began. The new cathedral was built gradually with church contributions and donations of the faithful. The building, in the shape of a Latin cross has three naves plus two side corridors with eight chapels to the right side and six chapels to the left.
Cathedral of Buenos Aires. The facade of the Metropolitan Cathedral is French-Neoclassical style and...
Cathedral of Buenos Aires. The facade of the Metropolitan Cathedral is French-Neoclassical style and has twelve columns representing the twelve apostles of Christ.
For the next two-and-a-half centuries the cathedral remained under construction. The work consisted of successive improvements, partial demolitions and reconstructions, and repairs of damage resulting from construction failures, and a fire in 1955 during protests over the conflict between political forces and religious activists. Restoration work began again in 1973 lasting until 1999.
Cathedral of Buenos Aires. Interior of the Cathedral and the central nave seen from the entrance tow...
Cathedral of Buenos Aires. Interior of the Cathedral and the central nave seen from the entrance towards the main altar. Both the main altarpiece and the pulpits date from the late 18th century.
Cathedral of Buenos Aires. Two pulpits with octagonal  pyramid-shape top and bottom are located in t...
Cathedral of Buenos Aires. Two pulpits with octagonal, pyramid-shape top and bottom are located in the columns next to the main altar. They were carved by Spanish artist Juan A. Gaspar between 1789 and 1790. The Main altarpiece in Rococo style was carved in wood by Spanish sculptor Isidro Lorea in 1785.
Mausoleum of General San Martín
In the fourth chapel on the right aisle of the cathedral is the Mausoleum of General José de San Martín, national hero of Argentina. San Martín is venerated as one of the liberators of Spanish South America and prime leader of the successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire of Argentina, Chile and Peru. The mausoleum was designed by French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse using marble of various colors. Since 1880 he lies there, in a black marble sarcophagus under the permanent custody of two grenadiers. The remains of General San Martín were brought to Buenos Aires from Boulogne- sur- Mer, France, where he died in 1850 at age 72.
Cathedral of Buenos Aires. The Mausoleum in the fourth chapel contain the remains of General José d...
Cathedral of Buenos Aires. The Mausoleum in the fourth chapel contain the remains of General José de San Martín, two other high ranking Argentine soldiers, and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Independence. The black sarcophagus is protected by three life-size female figures that represent Argentina, Chile and Peru. Two grenadiers stand permanent guard at the entrance of the Mausoleum.
Home of Jesuit Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis)
Pope Francis during a visit to São Francisco de Assis Hospital of Rio de Janeiro  Brazil  in May  2...
Pope Francis during a visit to São Francisco de Assis Hospital of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in May, 2013.
Agencia Brasil
Since 1998, the Metropolitan Cathedral was led by Jesuit priest Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires. In February 2001, Archbishop Bergoglio was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Bergoglio became well known and appreciated in Argentina's capital for his simple, humble lifestyle, and his commitment to social justice.
During his tenure as Archbishop he used public transportation and lived in a small apartment where he cooked his own meals. Archbishop Bergoglio, as a good Argentine national, loves tango and classical music, and is an enthusiastic soccer fan. In the conclave of 2013, after the resignation of Benedict XVI, Cardinal Bergoglio was appointed Pope and chose the name of Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.
More about Buenos Aires Cathedral, Buenos aires, Argent, Religious architecture, South American history
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