Construction of the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Merced in the center of Buenos Aires began in 1733 and was completed in 1779 by Andrés Bianchi. It was built on the site of an early seventeenth-century church and was originally part of the monastery of Mercedarios, one of the oldest in the city. A neo-Renaissance façade was added to the building in 1894, when Argentinean architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo renovated the structure and its interiors. The building preserves much of its interior furnishings and decoration, although elements have deteriorated to varying degrees. It was declared a National Historical Monument in 1942.
How We Helped
WMF has worked at Nuestra Señora de la Merced since 2006, supporting the establishment of a master plan for the church’s conservation that includes a detailed survey and documentation of the needs of the site and a plan for its restoration. We also supported the conservation of the French stained-glass windows. The first phase of this project has been completed for the windows depicting the Angel de la Guarda, Corazón de Jesús, Cristo, Jesús Crucificado, San Antonio, and San Francisco.
Why It Matters
One of the oldest churches in Buenos Aires, the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Merced is visited by thousands of tourists each year and often included on historic church tours. The religious complex houses the oldest historic archive of the city, dating from before 1884 when the Civil Archive was created. While the altar, paintings, ornamental plaster, and other decoration have been damaged by the effects of humidity, water infiltration, and general neglect. some urgent conservation work has already been completed inside the church, and the façade has been temporarily stabilized.