Possibly Mexico City’s second most recognised Catholic landmark is the largest and oldest cathedral in the Americas; the Catedral Metropolitana. Built using the remains of Aztec pyramids, and situated right on top of one such ruin just off the zócalo, legend has it that this magnificent and dazzling cathedral boasts a series of underground catacombs which lead to the Templo Mayor. What is for certain though is that it – like all of Mexico City – is rapidly sinking into the ground.
The Church of the Fifth Apparition, rather unsurprisingly, marks the spot where the Virgen de Guadalupe appeared once again to San Juan Diego. Supposedly told by the Virgin that she would provide proof to support his claims with the bishop, Juan Diego went home to Tulpetlac and found his uncle close to death. The following day, after speaking to the Virgin once more, his uncle was cured and corroborated his tale of the apparitions. This church is built over Juan Diego’s uncle’s house and has a healing well under the altar.
The Capilla del Cerrito de Tepeyac technically forms part of the site of the Basílica de Guadalupe, although we believe it to be worthy of a mention in its own right. In this exact location (allegedly) the most revered of Mexican virgins, the Virgen de Guadalupe, appeared to San Juan Diego in 1531 and offered him a bouquet of flowers which supposedly never withered. From this high up location, the views over Mexico City are also spectacular.
Situated in Coyoacán, the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista (sometimes known as Parroquia San Juan Bautista) is a holy site designed and built by Franciscan monks which took thirty years in the making and was remodelled in both the 19th and 20th centuries. As is apparent in the images below, the paintings and vibrant colours of the central nave are jaw-dropping. Even if you weren’t interested in Catholic sites per se, this is undoubtedly worth a visit for its interior alone.
Known as both San Felipe Neri and La Profesa, this is a Jesuit church situated in the heart of Mexico City. A favorite Catholic destination of travelers from all around the world, this neo-classic/Baroque temple was inaugurated in 1610 before being pretty much destroyed by flooding in 1629, and subsequently rebuilt in 1720. It is home to a magnificent collection of Mexican painting and some impressive, Baroque iron pillars.
An icon of the Roma neighbourhood in central Mexico City, La Sagrada Familia (not to be confused with the undeniably more grandiose Barcelona version) is a top Catholic location. Having only been constructed in 1910, its style is eclectic yet elegant, combining neo-classic and neo-gothic perfectly. However, the best part of this stunning edifice is on the inside; the stunning stained glass windows are beautiful.
Less of a Catholic location, and more of a Catholic event, the 150-year-old Pasión del Cristo is so unique and intriguing that it easily warrants the final spot on our guide. Every year during the Easter week celebrations, millions of people descend on the Cerro de la Estrella in Iztapalapa to observe this modern day re-enactment of Christ’s death. Half ceremony, half stage production, one lucky actor (who must be single, originally from Iztapalapa and Catholic) plays Christ and drags the weighty cross up to the Cerro.