Located just 100 kilometers from the Obelisk, the city of Mercedes is an ideal destination for weekend getaways. Among its many attractions is the neo-Gothic cathedral that the wind wanted to tear down in the middle of construction and a millionaire saved by making a huge contribution of money at the request of the neighbors.
To get there from the center of Buenos Aires you must take the Autopista del Oeste and connect with Route 5. The entire route is on a wide highway, which allows you to complete the journey in approximately one hour.
The temple, in French Neo-Gothic style, has a central tower with bell tower and a clock on each of its faces. It was declared a National Historic Monument in 2010 and inside it houses the Virgin of the Mercies, protector of the city.
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The remains of Saturnino Unzué, the millionaire benefactor who saved the Cathedral, and his wife, Inés Dorrego, are in the Cathedral, as an eternal tribute to their selfless collaboration with the work.
The history of the Cathedral arises from the need to enlarge the temple that existed in Mercedes at the end of the 19th century. At that time, it was already the head of the party, the train arrived, it had a judicial headquarters and a population that increased year after year. In 1882, plans for its construction were presented, but it was not until 1904 that demolition work on the existing small church began.
The Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes Church is one of the great attractions of the city. The neo-Gothic style cathedral has an incredible history.
A commission of notables was formed to take charge of the task and Saturnino Unzué was appointed president. Among the more than 20 projects presented, that of the architect Jacques Dunant was chosen. A block was purchased in the center so that the Cathedral would be well located and have gardens.
In 1906, two years after the start of the spectacular work, the new building already had the main tower, 73 meters high, with a cross at its top. At that moment the first problems arose: there was no more money and the project had to be stopped.
With the work stopped, in 1912 a furious storm broke out that endangered the Cathedral. The wind blew away scaffolding, slates, pillars and cornices. Everyone thought that Mercedes' dream ended there.
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However, someone had the idea of turning to Don Saturnino Unzué, one of the greatest ranchers in the world at that time. Known for his religious fervor and his commitment to the people, the landowner agreed to collaborate financially to make the project a reality.
The millionaire did not object to taking charge of all the expenses required to complete the temple and also to build the parish house. Thus, the millionaire saved the Cathedral from falling into ruins and becoming a failure.
The imposing neo-Gothic cathedral is located in the heart of Mercedes and was declared a National Historical Monument. (Photo: Caminosculturales.com.ar)
Unzué, a horse racing fan, said he would donate everything his best foal won at the racetracks. Ocurrencias, an unstoppable thoroughbred, won the Carlos Pellegrini Grand Prix and many other competitions, providing more than enough funds for the work.
The inauguration of the Cathedral took place only in 1921, because the outbreak of the First World War forced a new stoppage in the works. During construction, Unzué and her sisters continued to make donations to provide the church with all the necessary infrastructure and ensure that it generated admiration in its visitors. The millionaire's wife, Inés Dorrego, contributed a Wagner organ purchased in Germany, which is still in the Cathedral today.
Those who choose Mercedes for their weekend getaway will also be able to enjoy other rides. Cabalgatas, a grocery store that is a journey through time, nature, craft fairs and very good food in the neighboring town of Tomás Jofre, an unmissable gastronomic hub.