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New Cathedral (Holy Cross)

Cádiz

Cádiz, like some other Spanish cities, has two cathedrals. But only one of them is a monument. The other one, the Old one, seems like it was never appreciated too much, and to serve as proof is what the old work Chronicle General of Spain, or Illustrated and Descriptive History of its Provinces, published in 1869, says about it.

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Cádiz, like some other Spanish cities, has two cathedrals. But only one of them is a monument. The other one, the Old one, seems like it was never appreciated too much, and to serve as proof is what the old work Chronicle General of Spain, or Illustrated and Descriptive History of its Provinces, published in 1869, says about it.

The dusty tome does not dedicate many affectionate words to the building: things like it is a low height building, that its principal entrance has no artistic merit, that in its interior there is a lack of works of importance… So, it makes it quite clear that the real cathedral of the city was already, by then, that of Santa Cruz sobre las Aguas (Holy Cross on the Waters), better known among Cádiz people as New Cathedral.

Its full name, in fact, fits better with its appearance of a palace from some Eastern fantasy. Between its famous golden dome and the sea that almost wets its feet, the building would not be out of place in any story of The Arabian Nights, only for the fact that after all, well, hey, it is a Christian cathedral.

It all started in 1722: Cádiz had become a very, very important city thanks to the trade with America, and it deserved a cathedral of the same importance. So they started with the works, and they went forward under the direction of a lot of different architects, all of them from the school of the great master Churriguera.

Ships crammed with gold from overseas arrived at the port of the city and up to fourteen percent of those treasures were destined to the cathedral. But suddenly it was 1796: seventy years had gone by, the works were not finished, and the gold became scarce because of some events that were going to have everyone occupied for a while. Between wars of independence, revolutions and constitutions, everything was interrupted until 1832.

During those years of break, the building had to serve as a wood depot and a morgue among other things, but the project, after more than a century since it started, was eventually finished, and finally, in 1838 the bishop was able to enter and bless it.

Although the delays and the sea breeze have not suited the cathedral too well, it is worth going to see the treasures that it preserves: an impressive one hundred and fifty-one columns of Corinthian order, Genoese marble and precious materials like the Jasper marble brought from Manilva and Arcas, which was taken by car to Algeciras and arrived in Cádiz by sea.

Also, there is no lack of carvings and pictures of merit in the chapels, and that's because the city did not want to have just any cathedral. Even Calderón de la Barca (a famous Spanish writer), we are told, donated valuable objects to add to the fortune of the temple…


New Cathedral (Holy Cross)

Plaza de la Catedral, s/n
11005 Cádiz
(+34) 956 28 66 20

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