The corpulent Metropolitan Cathedral stretches almost an entire city block. This is the fifth cathedral to have been erected at this site because of fire and seismic damage to earlier ones. The cathedral began construction in 1748 following Bavarian Jesuit designs (you can admire their handiwork in the church's brawny cypress doors and silver frontal). It was during the cathedral's fourth restoration in 1780 that Italian architect Joaquín Toesca bestowed his signature harmony and unity, fusing the structure's baroque and neoclassical features with aplomb. It's worth taking a look inside to view the opulent main altar, dripping with white marble, bronze, and lapis lazuli. In 2005 and 2006, the main altar of the cathedral was completely remodeled; in the process, workers discovered the tomb of the lost body of Diego Portales, one of the founding fathers of Chile. Dozens of other Chilean luminaries and archbishops are buried here, too. The Cathedral's Museum of Sacred Art highlights more of the Jesuit's silver handiwork; the collection's two outstanding pieces are a silver lectern and tabernacle. There is also an ad-hoc ensemble of religious paintings and furniture which pales in comparison to those exhibited in the Iglesia San Francisco's museum. Don't miss the ethereal courtyard, a paradigm of faded grandeur. The museum is reached through the bookstore neighboring the cathedral.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Highly Recommended 2010
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- Paseo Ahumada, on the west side of the plaza
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