Mexico City is home to a number of ornate churches, all of which have a story of their own to tell. Gothic architecture, bright colors of tezontle stone, and lush green gardens can all be enjoyed in these beautiful structures. Whether it is for their architecture, interior design or history, these religious and sacred buildings are not to be missed when visiting Mexico‘s capital.
The Metropolitan Cathedral is the not only the largest cathedral in Mexico City, but in the whole of the Americas. It is located on the main Plaza de la Constitución (also referred to as the Zócalo). Construction of the Metropolitan Cathedral began in 1573 and was not completed until 1813. With impressive façades, sixteen chapels (fourteen of which are open to the public) and two bell towers containing a total of 25 bells each, as well as stunningly beautiful interiors, this Cathedral is a sight not to be missed.
The Basílica of Guadalupe, dedicated to Our Lady of Gaudalupe who is said to have appeared to Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, is highly important in Mexico City, being the second most visited holy place in 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 boasts beautiful chapels, a museum and a library, and even contains the Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin’s cloak which has an image of Our Lady of Guadaloupe, a relic which itself attracts millions of tourists and pilgrims every year.
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 façades 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 which acted as a shelter for the poor and homeless and which later became the first mental hospital in the Americas.
The church of San Jacinto is truly a place of peace and calm. With its blue façade and otherwise red walls made from volcanic rock, and pretty gardens and patios, this church is surrounded by nature and invites visitors to leave behind the bustling and noise of the busy city. Prior to the Spanish conquest, the land where this church stands was inhabited by the Tenanitla. There is still a feeling of paganism behind the Christian elements of this church in which lies one of the first crosses made in Mexico.
Located in the heart of Coyoacán is the Church of San Juan Bautista, one of the oldest Catholic places of worship in the Mexican Valley. 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 which is well worth visiting, to admire the beautiful architecture and to find some peace.
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The church of La Profesa is not only a place of worship frequented by locals and tourists – it is also an architectural masterpiece. Constructed in 1720 and designed by the architect Pedro de Arrieta, hugely celebrated in his time, this beautiful church has baroque and neoclassical influences which are a true symbol of Mexican culture and history. The interior design is just as impressive because of its stunning artwork, created and collected inside the church over many years, which is bound to leave you awe-struck.
Parroquía de San Miguel Archángel is another church designed by Pedro de Arrieta and again, is of outstanding architectural beauty. Located in the Centro Histórico of Mexico City, the Parroquía de San Miguel Archángel is surrounded by history and marks the entrance to the Mexico City of the 17th century. Its original purpose was to repel any 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, which has retained its importance to the people and the religion even after all these years.
Constructed between the 17th and 18th century, 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 Hernán Cortés which has now been removed. Inside is an unfinished but conserved mural by José Clerente Orozco, inspired by the Apocalypse and World War II. Alongside the church is a functioning hospital, which was erected under the orders of Cortés who wished it to be built to cure the Aztec soldiers who were wounded in battle.