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A Brief History of Cantera Stone

Natural beauty, exquisite color varieties, texture and durability are the qualities that have made Cantera stone one of the most popular sources for both masonry and decorative works of art throughout the years.

Used today in homes and buildings all around the country, Cantera, the Spanish word for quarrying, is by no means new. In fact, the use of this magnificent stone dates back to the 16th Century and the Spanish Conquistadors. Today, many of those timeless structures still stand side-by-side next to new buildings also utilizing Cantera stone.

The first churches and monasteries built by the Spaniards in the 16th century were made of adobe with straw roofs. However, knowing that these types of structures would not stand up to the elements, buildings in New Spain or Mexico as it is known today began being built of stone.

Cities like Morelia, Zacatecas, Durango, Guadalajara, Guanajuato and San Luis Potosi, Oaxaca, San Miguel and many, many more were all built with Cantera stone.

One of the world’s finest examples of Cantera stone masonry is the Catedral de Zacatecas, built in the 16th century. Showcasing the Mexican Baroque style of architecture, this magnificent cathedral is built of soft pink Cantera stone and boasts numerous festooned columns and geometric carvings, including life-sized scuptures of Jesus and the 12 apostles.

Another city renown for its use of Cantera is Oaxaca. Often referred to as the Emerald City or the City of Jade, Oaxaca features many building constructed of pale green Cantera which take on a deeper tone after a rain laying claim to its nickname.

Another impressive structure can be found in Morelia where a 254-arch two mile long aqueduct was entirely constructed of Cantera stone. Built in 1789, it was once the center of the municipal water distribution center. And though not in use today, it remains in excellent condition.

All throughout Mexico, literally hundreds of churches, carvings, buildings, mansions, streets, gardens and more are all made of Cantera.

Today, the same as in the 16th century, almost all Cantera is produced by family businesses handed down through the generations. Used largely in this country for decorative purposes, examples of the use of this ancient material can be found in a myriad of artistic objects including fireplaces, fountains, facades, columns, cornices, furniture, planters and more.

From hundreds of years ago to today’s modern times, Cantera is indeed a legacy of the past.

Granite is one of the most common rocks on our planet. It is an igneous rock that was formed from hot, melted rock called magma. The hot, liquid rock is called magma while it remains underground and is called lava when it comes out of the earth's crust during a volcanic eruption.

The hot magma cools underground and hardens into solid rock. Granite is made up mostly from a mixture of quartz, feldspar and mica crystals. It has large crystals that you can see very easily. The black specks that you can see in the picture are crystals of mica.

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