Whether you are religious or not The Metropolitan Cathedral is a sight to behold. It was built over the top of the Aztec sacred precinct close to the Templo Mayor in the Historic Centro portion of Mexico City. The cathedral was built over two centuries from 1573 to around 1813, which is seen in the combinations of architectural styles. It was planned by a Spanish architect inspired by Gothic cathedrals of Spain, but it definitely has an eclectic feel to it.
Because of the poor soft clay soil conditions, the structure has been sinking so much so that when you walk into the church you now walk down into it rather than up as it was originally. Due to the urgency of the stability of the cathedral it had been placed on the top 100 most endangered sites. The work to stabilize the cathedral started in the 1990’s and was eventually stabilized enough that it was taken off the endangered list in 2000.
In 1967 a fire destroyed a large part of the cathedral’s interior. During the restoration, important documents and artwork was discovered that had been hidden inside.
Within the cathedral are sixteen separate chapels but only fourteen of them are open to the public. Each one I found to be fascinating with each section dedicated to a different saint. The chapels are extremely ornate and all contain altars, paintings, pews, and sculptures. Laying under the cathedral is a crypt that holds the remains of some of the former archbishops.
This beautiful cathedral is about 180 feet wide and 360 feet long. There two amazing bell towers that have a total of 25 bells, there are five naves, a center dome, and three main sections in the center. There are around 150 windows and seemingly sky-high ceilings that are vaulted in some areas. I really enjoyed walking around this spectacular church.
I was fortunate enough to be staying at the Mundo Joven hostel which is located in the heart of Centro District overlooking the Zocalo and the Metropolitan Cathedral. The views from the balcony of the hostel are nothing less than stunning. This is a fifteen-year-old hostel with five floors which have dorms on each floor, on the fifth floor is a shared communal kitchen. There is a quaint outdoor seating area just outside the kitchen. And just one flight up to the rooftop is an outdoor bar called the Terraza that also shares impressive views of the cathedral and all of the Zocalo. The location of this hostel is unbeatable if you are looking to spend time wandering around the historic district.
If you are not a hostel person no worries they do have a few private rooms or you can find a room at the many hotels around the area. For me though the Mundo Joven hostel was a perfect fit and only $10.00 a night. The one word of caution I will share is that on the weekends it can be loud due to the Terraza bar but it’s also part of its charm. So perhaps bring some earplugs if you’re an early sleeper. But I have to say being able to just take an elevator up to the rooftop bar from my dorm was really nice and convenient. I enjoyed sitting and watching the world go by with an ice cold beer.
There is also a small restaurant on the main floor called the Xolo which had pretty good food at a decent price. If you are a guest of the hostel you can get your free breakfast here and if you decide to eat lunch or dinner here you will be given a 15% discount ticket to use when you check in. If you decide to eat at the Terraza the food comes from this establishment.
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