Mexico City is home to a number of ornate churches, all of which have a story to tell. Gothic architecture, bright tezontle stone and lush green gardens adorn these beautiful structures. Whether it’s for their architecture, interior design or history, these religious and sacred buildings are not to be missed when visiting the capital of Mexico.
The Metropolitan Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Mexico City and the whole of the Americas. It’s on the main Plaza de la Constitución (also referred to as the Zócalo). Construction of the cathedral began in 1573 and was not completed until 1813. With impressive facades, 16 chapels (14 of which are open to the public) and two bell towers containing a total of 25 bells each, as well as beautiful interiors, this cathedral is a sight not to be missed.
The Basílica of Guadalupe, dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe who is said to have appeared to Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, is highly important in Mexico City – it’s the second most visited holy place in the world. There are two basilicas: the old and the modern. The latter was built when the former had sunk so much that it had become a safety hazard, although it is once again open to the public. The modern basilica has beautiful chapels, a museum and a library, and even contains the cloak of Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, which has an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a relic thta attracts millions of tourists and pilgrims every year.
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When the conquistadores invaded Tenochtitlan in 1521, it was the day of San Hipólito. He was thus chosen as the patron saint of the city, and consequently, a baroque-style church with beautiful tezontle facades was built in his honor, completed in 1739. Despite San Hipólito’s grand status, it is the devotees of San Judas Tadeo who gather at this church on the 28th day of each month. Another attraction next to the church is the ex-convent that acted as a shelter for the poor and homeless and later became the first hospital for mental health problems in the Americas.
The Church of San Jacinto is a place of peace and calm. With a blue facade and red walls made from volcanic rock, pretty gardens and patios, this church is surrounded by nature and invites visitors to leave the city bustle behind. Prior to the Spanish conquest, the land on which this church stands was inhabited by the Tenanitla. And there is still a feeling of paganism behind the Christian elements of this church, although this is also where you’ll find one of the first crosses made in Mexico.
In the heart of Coyoacán is the Church of San Juan Bautista, one of the oldest Catholic places of worship in the area. The importance of this church has never been lost and was even declared a National Monument in 1934. The baroque architecture has a feeling of grandeur and importance, although its colors maintain a positive and spiritual atmosphere. This church has a majestic dome, impressive sacred artwork and three chapels, one of which leads into the former convent – visit to admire the beautiful architecture and find some peace.
The Iglesia La Profesa is not only a place of worship frequented by locals and tourists, but it is also an architectural masterpiece. Constructed in 1720 and designed by architect Pedro de Arrieta, who was hugely celebrated in his time, this beautiful church has baroque and neoclassical influences – a symbol of Mexican culture and history. The interior is just as impressive with stunning artwork, created and collected over many years.
Parroquía de San Miguel Arcángel is another church designed by Pedro de Arrieta and, again, is of outstanding architectural beauty. In the Centro Histórico of Mexico City, the church is surrounded by history and marks the entrance to the Mexico City of the 17th century. Its original purpose was to repel demons and evil from entering the city, and although this purpose is no longer relevant, Catholics still come to Mass in this ancient relic of a church.
Constructed between the 17th and 18th centuries, the Church of Jesus of Nazareth marks the place where Hernán Cortés and Moctezuma II met for the first time. This beautiful church is no longer in use, although for some time it contained the body of Cortés. Inside is an unfinished but conserved mural by José Clemente Orozco, inspired by the Apocalypse and World War II. Alongside the church is a functioning hospital, which was built under the orders of Cortés who wanted it to cure Aztec soldiers wounded in battle.
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