One of the most important symbols of the presence of Catholicism in Chile, established as the official religion with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century.
Inside, a crypt houses the remains of archbishops and bishops of Chile. Another highlight is the Monument to the Heroes of the Battle of La Concepcion, where the four hearts of the captains fallen in combat are kept.
Today, thousands of believers visit it each year. It acts as an important scenario for activities of national importance, such as the celebration of the Ecumenical Te Deum, a thanksgiving held on September 18, Chile’s Independence Day.
The Metropolitan Cathedral was declared a National Monument in 1951.
It is characterized by its eclectic style, since during the 151 years of its construction several architects were involved, each one stamping his own style and tendency.
Measuring 97.83 meters in length by 29.28 meters in width, it is divided into three naves, one central higher nave and two side naves, linked together behind the Main Altar.
Its decoration is rich in paintings and gilt, it lacks an apse and the floor tiles form geometric patterns.
One of the highlights of the interior is the Main Altar, in white marble, with bronze and lapis lazuli applications, built in Munich in 1912; the organ; the two pulpits; and the altar seats, made in mahogany by Bavarian Jesuits in the 18th century.
Also worth a mention is the chapel for the Holy Sacrament, a copy of the Chapel of St. John and St. Paul Martyrs in Rome.
The Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia, assigned the land on the west side of the Plaza de Armas for erecting the Iglesia Mayor, which became a Cathedral when Pope Pius IV named the town as headquarters of an extensive bishopric, by a Papal Bull issued on June 27, 1561.
Throughout three centuries, this church had to be rebuilt on five occasions (1561, 1571, 1670, 1679 and 1748) due to damage caused by fire and earthquakes. The current building was erected in 1748.
Several architects contributed to building this place of worship, including Bavarian Jesuits Pedro Vogl and Juan Hogen, Antonio Vásquez de Acuña, Francisco Antonio Barros, Joaquín Toesca, José Bhorquez, Juan José de Goycolea, Ambrosio Santelices, Fermín Vivaceta and Vicente Larraín.
Italian architect Joaquín Toesca was responsible for erecting the façade, getting his inspiration from the front of the church of San Juan de Letrán. He used ashlar stone, brought from the Cerro Blanco quarry, in its construction.
In 1899, Archbishop Monsignor Mariano Casanova commissioned Italian architect Ignacio Cremonessi with revamping the Cathedral. The works included stuccoing the stone walls, removing the cedar wood beams and wooden interior coffering, adorning it with paintings and stucco and plaster applications. With these interventions, it lost its original colonial style and took on a modern, Renaissance appearance that is still to be seen.
Plaza de Armas, Santiago.