The Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires) faces Plaza de Mayo, near the heart of the city, and is close to the Presidential palace, Casa Rosada. This is the church where before 2013 Pope Francis served as Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio. The church now houses the Pope Francis Museum featuring personal and religious artefacts belonging to the Pope, but we visited before this Museum had opened so I can’t comment on it.
A church was first built on this site in 1593 and it has been redesigned and updated seven times since. Construction on the current church was started in 1752 but not completed until the mid-nineteenth century, and the facade was finished in the early 20th century.
I found the cathedral much more impressive on the inside than from its exterior. The facade is more reminiscent of a classic Greek temple or museum than a usual Christian church. The twelve columns out front are said to represent the twelve apostles, supporting a triangular frontispiece depicting the meeting between Jacob and his son Joseph in Egypt. Behind the columns, the front wall has religious symbols and a candle whose eternal flame honors liberator General Jose de San Martín and the Unknown Soldier during the Wars of Independence.
The interior of the Cathedral is spacious, lovely and memorable. It’s a mix of neo-Romanesque and neo-Baroque styles. The floors are covered by Venetian mosaics and religious symbols.
To the right of the nave after you enter you find the marble mausoleum of General San Martín and the Unknown Soldier, with grenadiers standing watch at its entrance. This is one of the more popular spots in the Cathedral, many people wanting their photo taken here. Its art is the work of French sculptor Louis-Robert Carrier-Belleuse, the three female figures representing Argentina, Chile and Peru, the countries liberated by San Martín. He is considered the “Father of the Nation”.
The main wood altarpiece at the front of the church depicts the Virgin and the Holy Trinity. It is one of the older elements in the Cathedral, dating to 1785, and is one of the few remaining elements from colonial times.
There are large number of side chapels, some quite interesting. Also, check out the organ, an 1871 Walcker built in Germany, with more than 3,500 pipes. It is know for its great acoustics.
There’s a lot more to see in the cathedral. Take a look at some scenes below.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge the photos)