The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pure Conception, in Cienfuegos, is one of the most emblematic buildings of this city. It is located in Santa Isabel and San Carlos streets, in front of the José Martí Park. Its two tall steeples stand out in the landscape, one higher than the other does, because the neighbors decided to keep the oldest, although smaller. More closely, we check the neoclassical style of its facade with three French style arched windows. The church was built in 1818 and it was declared Holy Cathedral Church on February 20, 1903.

The Cienfuegos Cathedral is famous for its altar and for the Twelve Apostles in stained glass. The altar is quite elegant with an image of the colorful Virgin Mary and with ornate columns around. The stained glass windows with the images of the Twelve Apostles are also colorful, made in Paris, of polychrome glass. The Christ on the altar was brought from Barcelona as well as the image of the Virgin of the Pure Conception, patroness of the Villa.

The remaining decorative elements were donated by the wealthy families of the time. Some of the objects are the French clock of four spheres of 1873, the altars, the bronze bells, the artistic works, and the marbles for the floor and the doors. In addition, much of the artistic work was fruit of the people from Cienfuegos. All the woodwork was done by local cabinetmakers, also the oils and the decorative elements like candelabra, glasses, vases, flowerpots and pieces in crystal and silver. All this shows the love that the citizens have for their beloved Church.

The building of the Cathedral is very wide in its interior. With columns that support the wide vaults, forming beautiful arches. The height of the roof conveys a great sensation of immensity since entering. These elements provide a very good acoustics to the church. The light penetrates freely through the windows near the ceiling and on the sides. Two long rows of benches serve as seats for the faithful who attend Mass every Sunday and the curious. Several altars are dedicated to saints, to whom requests are made daily.

Currently a complete remodeling benefits the Cathedral. It is expected to conclude in the year 2018 to celebrate the 200 years of the founding of the city. Meanwhile, visitors can appreciate the beauty of its construction and at the same time be witness of the effort made to rescue this jewel of Cuban architecture and religion.

For visit: Corner of streets 54 and 56. Cienfuegos (“22.14614, -80.45189”). Free access daily.

by: Leunam Rodríguez