La Merced Cathedral

La Merced Cathedral, is a building that began in 1605 and is the result of a series of architectural actions that began in Renaissance style and ended in the current Baroque style, with certain colonial and conventual components.

Its origins come from a chapel that was part of the convent ordered to be built by the Lord of Huelva Don Alonso Perez de Guzman, VII Duke of Medina-Sidonia to be occupied by the Barefoot Mercedarian monks. There is not a named author to whom its construction is attributed, being several names that are related to its construction: Alonso de Valdeviras, major master of the County, fray Juan de Santamaría or the major master Martín Rodríguez de Castro. Its period of execution varies according to the sources but the estimate of the period is around 1615.

The Cathedral in the 18th and 19th centuries

In 1755 as a consequence of the earthquake of Lisbon the building was seriously damaged, damages that increased with the following earthquake in 1765. Therefore, from 1763 the construction of a new temple began under the project of Pedro de Silva in the purest Baroque style, being the master builder Ambrosio de Figueroa, and after his death Francisco Diaz Pinto continues the work.

The reforms begun in the Church-convent would not be completed until well into the twentieth century, due to circumstances fundamentally political of the Spain of that time: Napoleonic invasion (1811), suppression of the lordships (1811), disentailment of Mendizábal (1835), suppression of religious orders (1835), use of the Church as military barracks (1844), until the current use as headquarters of the University of Huelva and current Cathedral. The last architectural action carried out was in 1915 when the current belfry was erected on the main facade of clear colonial inspiration.

Santa Iglesia Catedral de la Merced de Huelva

The Diocese of Huelva creation

The history of the Church as a Cathedral begins in 1953 when the diocese of Huelva was created and La Merced Church was chosen as the new Cathedral, after being separated from the archdiocese of Seville.


The facade, of plastered brick, is of baroque style and is organized in three bodies separated by cornices.


The facade, of plastered brick, is of baroque style and is organized in three bodies separated by cornices.

The lower one plays the role of plinth and contains the entrance door to the temple with a semicircular arch framed by two pairs of pilasters on each side and with four-lobed oculi. Its sides have a semicircular oculus.

The second body is conceived as a great altarpiece with niches that in 1978 were decorated with sculpture by Antonio León Ortega as master and Mario Ignacio Moya Carrasco as apprentice, worked in terracotta under the invocations of the Virgen de la Merced, San Leandro and San Walabonso.

The third body practically repeats the scheme of the previous body substituting the central niche in this case for a rectangular window; and in the lateral niches in terracotta are the sculptures of Santa Maria and the blessed Vicente de San Jose.

The central section of the facade is topped with a balustrade on the cornice, in the center of which is a belfry with lateral brackets, a model that is repeated in the lateral belfries that do have bells. The lateral section that comprises the second and third bodies has alternating rectangular openings and oval and circular oculi.

A jewel in the interior of La Merced Cathedral

The interior of La Merced Cathedral does not correspond to the 17th century Renaissance project due to the numerous alterations that were made to it. The church currently has a hall plan, basilica style, with three naves separated by semicircular arches and a central transept.

The central nave is covered with a barrel vault fragmented in five sections by the so called transverse arches, being also the formeros of half point and on them, there is a continuous tribune with balconies that give to the main nave with forge work. The supporting system is based on four pillars that support the dome of the transept with a cruciform section with pilasters completed with Corinthian capitals. The lateral naves are covered with groin vaults and their sides have altarpieces where names such as Martínez Montañés or Herrera El Viejo are present.

Visit La Merced Cathedral

La Merced Cathedral is located in the Plaza de la Merced.

Admission is free and it can be visited:
– Tuesday to Friday from 11:00 – 13:00 h.
– Monday to Sunday: 18:00 – 20:00 h.

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