The Cathedral Restoration in La Antigua

The works include three phases: restoration of the side and back facades;
new exterior lighting and fumigating/waterproofing the roofs; and new sidewalks.
Antigua Guatemala cathedral

Workers on scaffolding restoring the Cathedral (Luis Toribio)

A fabulous restoration project is currently underway on the centuries-old cathedral in Antigua! We are so excited, as this part of the 1680 building has not been restored possibly since the 1940s-50s.

Antigua Guatemala cathedral

Inauguration of the beginning of the project (Patronato de Catedral de La Antigua)

The “Patronato de Catedral de La Antigua,” officially known as the “Patronato pro Conservación, Restauración y Rehabilitación del Conjunto Monumental de San José Catedral de La Antigua Guatemala,” was formed by the archbishop of Guatemala, Monsignor Óscar Julio Vian, and began restoration work this year. Project director is architect Osmín Isidro Maza Castellanos; the treasurer is our dynamic friend, Flor de María Orellana.

The first cathedral’s construction in Santiago de Guatemala, now known as La Antigua Guatemala, began in 1543 when the city moved from the previous capital. It was modified over the years and then demolished in 1668 to build a new structure. The first architect, Martín de Andujar, was released after difficulties building the vaults we see today.

Antigua Guatemala cathedral

Restoring the rooftop (Patronato de Catedral de La Antigua)

Guatemalan architect Joseph de Porres was put in charge. Born in Guatemala, Joseph was part Afro-American, part Maya and part Spanish descent. He incorporated the magnificent workmanship in completing Santiago de Guatemala’s cathedral in 1680 with great pomp and circumstance. It later became a metropolitan cathedral in 1743 with an archbishop.

After the decision to move the capital to present-day Guatemala City in 1773-74, all of the art was also moved to the new capital, leaving the cathedral deconsecrated, and it began to fall into disrepair. The front part (in use today as San José Catedral) was restored after 1830, but the back part was left abandoned.

Restoration work was carried out when the city was declared a National Monument in 1944, and more was accomplished by Antigua’s historic preservation council (Consejo Nacional para la Proteccion de Antigua Guatemala, CNPAG) throughout the 1980s-90s, but it is time to give the exterior a face-lift.

The works, approved by the Parish Priest Erick Monzón and CNPAG, include three phases: restoration of the side and back facades; new exterior lighting and fumigating/waterproofing the roofs; AND new sidewalks! Donations are appreciated for this important restoration project at

Antigua Guatemala cathedral

The back facade (Patronato de Catedral de La Antigua)


by Elizabeth Bell, author/historian.

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