The Catedral de Santa María la Menor is the first cathedral of America. Owing to this distinction, the cathedral has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Santo Domingo.
The cathedral can be found at Calle Arzobispo Meriño, Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo, 10211.
What to See
One of the most outstanding features of the cathedral is the coral-limestone facade. You will see this rising above the Parque Colon south side. The unique design is due to the different elements that were used in its design. There are elements of the Plateresque style as well as late Gothic. The interior of the first cathedral of America is composed of hammered silver.
There are several artifacts and relics associated with this cathedral. There are now reports that the government is planning to construct a museum just for them. Other artifacts in the cathedral are the tombstones, sculptures and retablos. The remains of Columbus were once placed here before being put in Faro a Colon.
The cathedral also has a nave and three aisles. The aisles have cross vaulted ceiling and the nave is pitched. The basilica is 54 meters (177 ft) long. The three aisles are 23 meters (75 ft) wide. The vaulted ceilings have a height of 16 meters (52 ft). The total area the structure occupies is 3,000 square meters (32,000 sq ft).
Consecration of the cathedral was performed by Pope Julius II in 1504. The actual building started in 1512. The building was supervised by Bishop Fray Garcia Padilla. In 1519, Bishop Alexander Geraldini arrived. His arrival went a long way towards inspiring the redesign of the complex. The foundation for the current church was set down on 1521.
The building was done by Luis Moya based on the schemes of Alonso Rodriguez. By 1541, the place was finished enough for a consecration to take place. On February 12, 1546, Pope Paul III granted the cathedral the title of Primate of the Americas and Metropolitan Cathedral.
The place is free to enter; there are no charges of any kind.
The treasury of the cathedral is extensive. The collection includes precious jewelry, silver and funerary monuments. There are also plenty of furnishings and wood carvings. Visitors to the site will also see that there are a dozen side chapels.
The first cathedral of America is open Mondays to Saturdays from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm. The Sunday masses commence at 6:00 am.