Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico

Sacred center in the historic heart of Mexico City

By CyArk

CyArk

Interior Metropolitan Cathedral by CyArkCyArk

Introducing the Metropolitan Cathedral

Built on top of the capital of the Aztec empire, Tenochtitlan, Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral exemplifies the dynamic nature of a city and nation influenced by its indigenous and colonial histories. The Cathedral complex is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico and is composed of four buildings: the cathedral, the sagrario or sacristy, the Capilla de las Animas, and the Ex curia building. The expansively ornate cathedral draws visitors from around the world and remains an active religious center for Mexicans today. 

Inside Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral (2018-09-24) by CyArkCyArk

Historic Context

The construction of the Metropolitan Cathedral began in 1573 around a smaller church that was built shortly after the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlan. Because the cathedral involved so many artists, religious leaders, architects, and government authorities from different generations, the cathedral is seen as a place of social and cultural crossroads. This cathedral is a celebration of many styles and influences over time. This cathedral also represents the conquests of the Spanish over the Aztecs, as it exists on top of the former site of the Templo Mayor, the main temple where the Aztecs would have celebrated their gods.

Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral (2018) by CyArkCyArk

The Metropolitan Cathedral Today

This expansively ornate cathedral draws visitors from around the world and remains an active religious center for Mexicans today. The historic city center - including the cathedral - is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, specifically for the exemplary architecture featured in the buildings around the city and their historical significance. This cathedral is the oldest and largest cathedral in all of Latin America, and has survived centuries of harsh weather and earthquakes. The cathedral also currently houses the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. 

Metropolitan Cathedral organCyArk

Sounds of the Cathedral

Crafted by Spanish builder, Jose Nassarre, the cathedral's organs emulate Spanish baroque style. Added to over time, the organs on the east and west side of the choir are comprised of seventy-one bass and eighty-seven treble registers. With two facades facing one another, the organs create layers of sound reflecting baroque influence and the power of the Metropolitan Cathedral as a significant spiritual site. 

Digitizing the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City by CyArkCyArk

Digital laser scan in Mexico City's Cathedral (2018) by CyArkCyArk

Expedition Overview

In November 2018, CyArk documented the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral in collaboration with the Directorate General of Sites and Monuments and the Secretaria de Cultura, Agenda Digital de Cultura. Citibanamex Compromiso Social supported the project. Subject to earthquake damage over the centuries of its existence, a 2017 earthquake caused further damage to the structure. Using laser scanning technology, photogrammetry, and drones, CyArk digitally captured details of the structure today. This information will aid site managers in restoration work and preserving the cathedral, one of Mexico’s most important religious and historic sites.

Orthographic drawing of Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral (2018) by CyArkCyArk

Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral (2018-09-24) by CyArkCyArk

Additional Resources

For more information on this site, its history and additional resources relating to CyArk’s work please visit

CyArk Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral Resources.

Credits: Story

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This project was made possible through the generous support of Citibanamex Compromiso Social and the following partners:

Direccion General de Sitios y Monumentos

Arquidiócesis de México

Agenda Digital de Cultura

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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