Mérida Co-Cathedral

Mérida, Spain

The city of Mérida returned under Christians hands in 1230, when it was conquered by Alfonso IX of León. The city was attached to the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela. The construction began on a chapel dedicated to Virgin Mary on the ruins of the Visigothic cathedral.

In 1479, Don Alonso de Cárdenas, Master of the Order of Santiago, ordered the extension of the chapel with the intention to make it the main church of the city. In 1620, a bull of Pope Paul V creates the title of titular bishop of Mérida. The bishop was chosen among the priests of the Order of Santiago, that chose the church of Santa María as see of their bishopric.

In 1994 Pope John Paul II established the Archdiocese of Mérida-Badajoz, making the Church of Saint John Baptist his metropolitan cathedral and co-cathedral the church of Saint Mary Major of Mérida.


The cathedral is rectangular in shape and consists of three naves (the central one is two times wider than the lateral ones), separated by square pillars, with a detached column on each face upon which pointed arches are alighted. The roof of the auditoriums was originally of a Mudejar style ceiling but is now vault shaped.

The high altar consists of two sections. Covered with a vault of tierceron, the first is on a rectangular base and the second on a spectrum, with keys decorated with a rosette plant and the Mystic Lamb. On both sides of the presbytery, under arcosolia, the tombs in alabaster of Don Diego de Vera Mendoza, of the Order of Santiago and his wife Doña Marina Gomez de Figueroa can be admired. The central apse is decorated with a large altarpiece from 1762, which two bodies surround a 13th-century window.

The central vaulted niche of the second body, which rests on a pedestal base, is occupied by an image of the Virgin Mary, accompanied by the apostles Peter and Paul and the local saints Eulalia and Julia.

Among the apsidal chapels, the Chapel of the Epistola, of the Earls of la Roca, is the most notable. It is divided into two sections and both covered with ribbed vaults, decorated with their shield.



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Founded: 1479
Category: Religious sites in Spain

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User Reviews

Agustin Alamo Antúnez (9 months ago)
They do not comply with the schedule they put on the cathedral website. On Friday 09/22/2023 at 6:00 p.m. it was completely closed without any sign indicating anything, when according to its website the hours are: Monday to Friday: From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m.
Rubén D. Mancera Morán (12 months ago)
Co-Cathedral of Santa Maria. Spain Square. In it is the Royal Brotherhood and Children's Brotherhood that makes a penance station on Palm Sunday and Holy Monday of the Meritense Holy Week Declared of International Tourist Interest. In it is the Stmo. Christ of the O. Anonymous XIV century. Head of the Board of Brotherhoods of Mérida that makes penance station and Via Crucis on Holy Saturday at dawn. Solemn Via Crucis in the Roman amphitheatre.
Candela Solera Gárate (4 years ago)
A very beautiful place, it has many beautiful things, but the only bad thing is that they put so much incense on it that we almost drowned. But the rest is very good.
Marco_ Capo7 (5 years ago)
Juan Salas (5 years ago)
The Co-Cathedral of Santa María la Mayor rises in the historic heart of Mérida. It is heir to the old cathedral, which the city had, the Cathedral of Santa Jerusalén, seat of the Visigothic archbishopric of Emerita. Its exterior is very austere. Its interior consists of three naves, the central one is twice as wide as the lateral ones, and they are separated by square pillars, with a column on which pointed arches rest.
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