Old Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe

Old Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Old Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe

Currently the devotion in Mexico to the Virgen de Guadalupe is so great that there are constant pilgrimages to this temple, and even he built a new modern basilica to house all those faithful. However, the most emblematic image is the Old Basilica of Guadalupe, one of the masterpieces of Baroque architecture in Mexico and throughout Latin America.


Old Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico

Its construction began in 1694 following the project of José Durán and Diego de los Santos, and it was not completed until 1709, being then the director of the works Pedro Arrieta.

It was built using the native materials of the most traditional architecture. Hence the use of grayish chiluca stone and the characteristic tezontle red tone.

The general outline of the temple reminds us of the Cathedral of Mexico City. That is to say, a basilica plan with a central dome, and a facade organized by corner towers and a highly decorated central body, in which elements of classical architecture and also of New Spain are mixed.

It is a kind of altarpiece facade dominated by polygonal and curved forms, which was so successful in the Mexican architecture of the time. There mix forms of classicist arches, with others trefoil, flared, pointed and in any way that theimagination and technique permitting.

The truth is that you can see the imprint of the last architect who worked on this work, Pedro Arrieta, one of the most influential of the time, author of other buildings in the Mexican capital such as the church of the Company or the Palace of the Inquisition. A very free artist in his influences who resorts to the classic as well as the memories of the Gothic. In fact, he shapes what was going to be the so-called Novohispanic architecture, a variant within the Hispano-American Baroque, which spread through many temples throughout the Aztec country.

And the thing is that concepts similar to those he developed in the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe continued to be used in the following decades in places like the church of the Soledad de Oaxaca, the Cathedral of San Luis de Potosí or the church of San Fernando in Mexico City itself. And not only there, but also in neighboring Guatemala, where the Iglesia de la Concepción de la Ciudad Vieja of the Guatemalan capital stands out.

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