Friday, July 15, 2011

Cathedral in León, Nicaragua, Made a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently voted to add the cathedral in the Spanish colonial city of León, Nicaragua, to its prestigious World Heritage List. Dating back to1747, the Catedral de León is the largest cathedral in Central America. Its construction, carried out mainly by indigenous laborers, reportedly took the better part of a century.

The massive cathedral's imposing Baroque and Neoclassical facade spans an entire city block and is guarded by two stone lions, the regal beasts after which León is named. Natural light issuing from artfully placed skylights bathes the cathedral's vast interior, which houses the tombs of religious figures and poets. Among them is the final resting place of Rubén Darío, a native of León who became Nicaragua's best loved man of letters. There are also rare religious paintings, impressive marble statues, plus a wooden Flemish altarpiece.

During my last visit to León, I couldn't help noticing that the city's cathedral was falling into a state of disrepair. Hopefully, now that it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there will be more funds available for the preservation and restoration of this important historical monument.

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