Without a doubt, the Cathedral of Santa Marta is something the people are proud of. It’s one of the most familiar images of the inhabitants of Santa Marta as well as one of the most loved patrimonial sites. It was the first church built in continental America and, because of this, is considered the Mother of Colombian churches.
From afar, it outlines the sky with its regal stamp. Its first foundation dates back to 1531 at which time it was made with clay, wood, and palm leaves.
In 1765 construction on the basilica began under the mandate of the governor Don Andrés Pérez who commissioned the work to the engineer Don Juan Cayetano. It’s considered the gateway to the Gospel in South America. Today, it conserves each of its facets and immaculate white renaissance style, details that don’t get lost to the camera’s focus.
Other events give it greater brightness and glory. For over 30 years, the remains of Simón Bolívar remained in this sacred place. On November 20, 1842, a committee of representatives of Venezuela came to Santa Marta to exhume Bolívar’s remains and take him back to his natal home. But, to not leave Santa Marta without Bolívar, as a sign of respect for the intimate history he shared with the city, they left his heart and entrails in the Cathedral. The Cathedral also is home to the remains of Don Rodrigo de Bastidas, the founder of Santa Marta, brought over from the Dominican Republic in 1953.
In a city that in over more than two centuries of existence had to face fires, pirate attacks, floods and earthquakes, faith becomes a vital element of existence of the descendents who survived such calamity. For this reason, the Cathedral is not only a faithful witness to these events, but is also a bulwark of national Catholic tradition.
It’s worth your time to stop at the Cathedral, step into its history, appreciate its architecture, and, perhaps, seep up centuries of faith. It remains one of Christianities most important architectural jewels in South America.