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One of the greatest losses of Mexico City's cultural inheritance is related to the convent of San Francisco. The expansion of the city center, along with the Latin-American Tower construction project, had the dire effect of leaving only a small part of the cloister and church intact. The House of Beasts, or rather, Emperor Montezuma's zoological collection, originally occupied this land. After the Spanish conquest, Hernán Cortes gave it to the Franciscans (the first order to establish itself in what was then called New Spain), who built a 32,490 square meter convent, the biggest in America. Part of the installation included the school of Artes y Oficios (Skills and Trades) of San Jose de los Naturales, which aimed to educate indigenous children.
This Baroque construction, dating back to 1670, has been affected in the conflict between the conservation of important public works of art and the city's need to expand. Originally, the church had a double facade parallel to the street, as was traditional in old-fashioned convents and used to face what is now Avenida 20 de noviembre. However, when the road in front was widened, one section had to be taken down and re-built onto the side of the building. The church has plateresque decoration (a sixteenth century Spanish architectural style) with a sculpture of Our Lady of Guadeloupe carved out of tecali marble.
There is no other church as aristocratic as this one in the whole of Mexico City. Built by Pedro Arrieta and completed in 1720, its Baroque style proved to be so distinctive that it became a prototype for other Jesuit constructions. Although its real name is the Church of San José el Real, it is known locally as "La Profesa" because it once formed part of the Jesuit house of the same name. One of the most splendid churches of the old Spanish viceroyalty, it stood in for the Metropolitan Cathedral between 1926 and 1932, while the former was closed due to religious conflict. Towards the end of the 18th century, its interior was refurbished, the main altar being replaced by a more Neo-Classical model designed by Manuel Tolsá, and dedicated to San Felipe Neri. At the dawn of the 19th century, Agustín de Iturbide, the only "Emperor" to have governed Mexico, would attend mass here. The church has its own collection of paintings, which further enhance its atmosphere of pomp and elegance.
On the façade of this parish church, you can see a high marble relief depicting Saint Michael, with the Virgin of Guadeloupe above, crowned with a three-bell clock. The dome, as well as the building's octagonal towers, is covered in glazed tiles. There are two chapels inside: one devoted to Our Lady of Pilar and the other to Saint Joseph. The diocese of San Miguel Arcángel was the second most extensive within the so-called New World (often referred to as New Spain,) after the church known as the Sagrario Metropolitano. The gold-coated altars were one legacy of this wealth which would be visible today if they had not been stripped away as a consequence of the Reformation Laws of 1861.
No other church, apart from the city's cathedral, can boast such a varied history and such valuable contents as this one. This Baroque seventeenth century church, shelters in its chancel the remains of the Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés. After being identified in 1946, the remains were left to rest in their original sepulcher. The interior includes a fresco by the celebrated Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozoco; this was one of the last major works by this early twentieth century artist.
Nestled in the heart of Mexico City, this magnificent temple was originally established in 1553 as a dedication to Santo Niño Perdido. In 1667 it was reconstructed as the Templo de Nuestra Señora de Balvanera; it included the church and a convent on site. During the 1800s, the convent was razed to the ground, but the church survived the political turmoil in the city. Reflecting beautiful baroque architecture, this church features a tiled-bell tower.
The Metropolitan Cathedral or Catedral Metropolitana is one of the most important historical buildings in Mexico City. Construction was started at the beginning of the 18th Century and continued throughout the next 300 years. This is why different influences can be detected in the architectural style, dominated by Spanish Renaissance and French Neo-Classicism, along with a Baroque touch to the rose sandstone roof. The cathedral's five aisles are adorned with ornate altars and elaborate engravings, and its floors are made of marble. Don't miss this transcendental symbol of the Mexican people's faith and devotion.
Considered to be one of the most perfect artistic expressions of its age, this church was constructed in the baroque style of the well-known Spanish architect Jose de Churriguera. The beauty and grace of the building are equaled only by the Cathedral Metropolitan next door. The facade is similar in style to altarpieces for a church's interior, and there is a special resemblance to the Altar de los Reyes (Kings Altar) located within the cathedral itself. The difference lies in the fact that this facade was not created out of wood or gold, as was traditional at the time, but rather of stone flanked by tezontle walls, which accentuates the rich and precise handiwork.