Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral), Mexico City

Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral), Mexico City (must see)

Dominating the Zócalo to the north, the Metropolitan Cathedral is a mortar-and-stone representation of the central role of the Catholic Church in Mexico's past and present. A modest church was built on this site in 1524, over the location of the destroyed Aztec palace of Moctezuma. Shortly thereafter, New Spain's governors commissioned the construction of a bigger, grander church to fit their vision for the City of Palaces. The first stone of the new cathedral – now the oldest and largest in the Western Hemisphere – was laid in 1553, but it wasn't completed for 240 long years. Over the centuries, different architects have left their mark on both the interior and exterior, which boast a dazzling array of Baroque (façade), Neo-Classical (dome), Renaissance and even Chugeressco styles.

Within the cathedral's two bell towers, 25 multi-ton bells are still rung by hand. During the earthquake of September 19, 2017, a cross known as La Esperanza, which topped the eastern tower, toppled and fell to the ground. Tours of the bell towers have since been suspended indefinitely. An exceptional collection of paintings, colored statues, and glittering altarpieces adorn the interior, which also houses the largest 18th-century organs in the Americas – hence the frequent concerts with a focus on organ and choral music.

Tip:
It's a functioning cathedral so be mindful of that, and try to avoid mass. Walk down the sloping floor from the alter towards the back of the church, and look for the large pendulum suspended from the ceiling which tracks how much the building has sunk by marking a record on the floor. Look also at doorways and columns to see how the church – and many of the other heavy old buildings – are leaning and sinking; don't miss the Black Jesus, or "Lord of Poison" statue in the chapel at the back (but do read in advance the story for which it is famous); seek out the chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe in a chapel on the quiet side of the church, and see the depiction of when Saint Juan Diego opened his cloak before archbishop Zumárraga (again, read the story in advance – anecdotally, Mexicans seem to believe that their Saint takes precedence over Jesus); and, finally, go outside to see where one of the crosses fell from the roof during the 2017 earthquake.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am–8pm

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Mexico City. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral) on Map

Sight Name: Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral)
Sight Location: Mexico City, Mexico (See walking tours in Mexico City)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Mexico City, Mexico

Create Your Own Walk in Mexico City

Create Your Own Walk in Mexico City

Creating your own self-guided walk in Mexico City is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Mexico City's Nightlife

Mexico City's Nightlife

Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world and also one of the most populated. Its nightlife is all about amazing music, great drinks and thrilling fun. The music here is mainly a combination of Spanish and English-language rock, electronic music, some Latin/Caribbean music, Latin pop, and sometimes traditional Mexican music. Take this self guided tour to enjoy the unique nightlife...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Zona Rosa Walking Tour

Zona Rosa Walking Tour

Zona Rosa, or the Pink Zone, is one of Mexico City's popular neighborhoods. It is located near the historic center of the city, and was called Pink Zone because of the pink tiles that are prevalent here. The area is noted particularly for its splendid Beaux-Art architecture, the city's best handicraft markets and antique shops. Take this self guided tour to discover the beauties that...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Historic Center Food Tour

Historic Center Food Tour

A combination of history and tradition in Mexico City permeates all aspects of life, and the food scene is no exception. For centuries, food and drink have been an inseparable part of the city's culture manifested in notable markets and eateries, and some truly amazing recipes making up what we call the Mexican cuisine. This self-guided tour allows you to explore some of the top food-related...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Museums Walking Tour

Museums Walking Tour

Mexico City is one of the most dazzling cultural sites in the world, boosting many fascinating museums in the city. Mexico City also has a rich history of artistic expressions. It was home to the Aztec civilization and the Spanish Empire both of which have left behind an impressive heritage and a unique culture. Take this self guided walk to explore the rich culture heritage that Mexico City has...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Historic Center Walking Tour

Historic Center Walking Tour

After the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán, Spanish settlers destroyed the Mexica capital, building a European-style settlement atop the ruins – and, in many cases, using the stones from fallen Mexica temples to construct their own churches and palaces. Five centuries later, Mexico’s pre-Colombian heritage is embedded throughout the Centro Histórico – in its layout, in its place-names,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

Mesoamerican civilizations established open-air marketplaces for trade and commerce, and after the Spanish conquest, many important pre-Colombian markets continued to operate throughout the New World. Often atmospheric and interesting, neighborhood markets are hands down the best places to shop for fruits and vegetables, but also for crafts, antiques, paintings, art objects, jewelry, and more....  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


10 Must-Try Mexican Foods in Mexico City

10 Must-Try Mexican Foods in Mexico City

While Mexico is a treasure trove in terms of cultural and artistic heritage (ancient history, architecture, etc.), the vast majority of visitors to the country are lured mainly by, let's face it, bodily pleasures. The latter are manifested in the form of sandy beaches, sun and, most...
Souvenir Shopping Guide: 17 Must-Buy Local Products from Mexico City

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 17 Must-Buy Local Products from Mexico City

Both historic and modern day Mexico's are worth each other in terms of cultural and artistic heritage. The country's capital Mexico City is a showroom of what the label "Made in Mexico" stands for in its entirety. Whether it's authentic food, drink or piece of craftsmanship...