Located in front of Plaza de Mayo, at the intersection of San Martín Street and Rivadavia Avenue, the Metropolitan Cathedral is the main seat of the Catholic Church in Argentina. In addition to being situated in a key area of Buenos Aires, it holds a long history of challenges in its construction. The current building is the sixth construction that has taken place on this site since the second founding of the city.
The first construction, in 1593, was an adobe chapel. From that moment until today, there have been six different buildings on this site, which had to be rebuilt due to floods, fires, poor materials, and structural defects. The definitive construction began in 1752 under the direction of the Italian architect Antonio Masella and was completed in 1852, although its decoration was not finished until 1911. Its final structure is neoclassical and has a profile less commonly seen in cathedrals, resembling a Greek temple rather than a traditional Catholic building. In 1822, the French architects Próspero Catelin and Pedro Benoit designed the façade, with its 12 columns symbolizing the twelve apostles of Jesus.
The interior features naves, side chapels, and a transept under an impressive dome that reaches a height of 41 meters. Another important detail is the ornamentation of the front, created in 1860 by the French sculptor Joseph Dubourdieu (author of the figure atop the May Pyramid), who sculpted the bas-relief on the façade depicting the encounter of Jacob with his son Joseph in Egypt. In 1877, the architect Enrique Alberg reformed a lateral nave to accommodate the mausoleum of General José de San Martín, a work by the sculptor Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. The fourteen Stations of the Cross paintings are the work of Italian artist Francesco Domenighini and were originally located in the Church of El Pilar. The grand and gilded high altar stands out as the centerpiece of the cathedral.
In 1942, the Metropolitan Cathedral was declared a National Historic Monument and is considered one of the most important architectural works from the colonial era.