The Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica Santa Maria de la Encarnación Primada de América is one of the fundamental pillars on which rests the Colonial zone of Santo Domingo, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The importance of Santa María de la Encarnación, aside from its architectural values, lies in the fact of been the first cathedral in the Americas.
In the beginning of the 16th century, the Cathedral of the Dominican Republic capital, popularly known as Santa María La Menor, was sanctified by Pope Julius II. Its origins could not be more humble; it is counted that it was built on the base of the first temple, which would have been lifted as a simple hut with a roof made of palm leaves.
In 1521, favoured by the arrival of Bishop Alejandro Geraldini, they began to build a more sumptuous Cathedral. Ended in 1541, it was not until five years later that, at the request of King Charles V, Pope Paul III officially instituted it as Metropolitan Cathedral and Primada de las Indias.
It is said that the planes on which the architectural style was based were made by Leonardo Da Vinci himself. Its style is remarkably Gothic, although one of its three doors would become a real tribute to the spanish plateresque style.
For many years, Santa Maria La Menor became the resting place for the remains of Christopher Columbus.
Currently, a stroll through the historic centre of Dominican Republic capital should include a visit to the Primada de América Cathedral.
Creative Commons Image: Flickr/Bree Brailey