The foundations of the first cathedral built in the
new city of Santiago were laid in 1542, using the debris brought in by
bishop Marroquin from Cuidad Vieja, the previous capital. Its
construction and continuous repairs lasted throughout the rest of the
century, caused by the delays from lack of funds and the earthquakes of
1651, 63, and 66.
The original roof was made of straw, which was later
replaced with wood and a carved paneled ceiling.
The demolition of this first cathedral began in 1669
in order to build the second cathedral at the same site. This was
inaugurated eleven years later.
The layout of this cathedral was typical of the
Spanish cathedral of the period, grand in its architecture and decorated
with great artistic treasures by contemporary sculptors, painters, and
Elevated to the rank of "metropolitan" in
1743, its was probably the largest and most luxurious in Central
Among the ruins, we may still appreciate the
elaborate decorations sculptured on the dome, columns and pillars,
cornices and vaults. For almost 100 years, itís survived three major
earthquakes, but the earthquakes of 1773 destroyed it completely.
Two of the chapels at the entrance remained almost intact; they were
restored at the beginning of the XIX century and today are called the
parish church of san Jose.