The Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Cathedral in Ponce is one of the five cathedrals in Puerto Rico. The structure was built in the 19th century to replace the old temple that dated to the 17th century, which was demolished after it suffered damages from a series of earthquakes.
The structure was rebuilt again after the earthquake of 1918. Architects Fernando Gardón and Francisco Porrata Doria were in charge of the work. The church was declared a cathedral in 1924 by pontifical decree and in 1926 its first bishop was named, Monsignor Edwin V. Byrne.
The cathedral is located in the center of Las Delicias Plaza in Ponce and faces west. The structure’s façade consists of a two-story portico with two towers divided into three levels that mark the main façade. This design is known as westwerk (a monumental entrance in the western façade with two towers, a vestibule and a chapel). In the vestibule are two wooden doors that resemble columns and provide access to the towers.
The cross-shaped floor plan consists of a principal nave and two secondary naves with nine cross spaces. Above the entrance is a choir loft with an organ that is accessed by a wooden stairway attached to the wall. An arcade decorated with designs carved in relief divides the main nave from the side ones. The height of the central nave allows the creation of a clerestory with stained glass. There are two chapels on the two sides: the first has walls of exposed brick and is used as for baptisms and the second, built in 1911, has a wooden altar of Gothic design that was originally the church’s main altar.
The rear wall has a square apse with a cupola that rests on pendentives and is topped with a lantern. The alabaster altar is a neo-classical design. The sacristies on both sides of the apse are topped with barrel vaults made of brick. The cathedral retains its original gray and white marble floor, except in the areas of the side chapel and the apse, which have a tile floors. Originally, the interior walls were decorated with oil paintings.
Most of the structure’s original doors, windows and stained glass remain. In 1985, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Adapted by the PROE Editorial Group
Original source: Catalog of Properties, National Registry of Historic Sites, State Office of Historic Conservation, Office of the Governor, 1995.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 17, 2014.
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