Friday, May 18, 2007

The bells, the bells

Mexico City's Zócalo has some of the clankiest cathedral bells I've ever heard.

The cathedral of Toledo on which this one was partially modelled, lacks this kind of wide open space in front of it. Over there I've observed Japanese tourists desperately backing up into the narrow corner about 30 yards and 30 degress from the façade where it is just about possible to take a pic with a compact camera that encompasses the whole of it.

By contrast the architects of New Spain might be said to have overdone the expansiveness of Mexico's Plaza de la Constitución. (Though the whole point might have been the flattening of the Mexica/Aztec structures that they had found there.)

The cathedral was consecrated while still incomplete in 1667 and the two bell towers and the central dome designed by Manuel Tolsa were eventually finished in 1813. The adjoining Sagrario, which serves as a parish church for the area, was constructed with the local tezontle stone in the 1700s and features a Churrigueresque façade, a style of stucco decoration popular in Iberia between 1600 and 1750.

Aside from Toledo, other famous examples are the charterhouse of Granada and Santiago de Compostella.