Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral), Mexico City

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

Dominating the Zócalo to the north is the Metropolitan Cathedral, the oldest and largest European church in the Western Hemisphere. The temple sits on the site of the former Aztec sacred precinct, the palace of Moctezuma, destroyed during the Spanish conquest.

The cathedral's first stone was laid in 1553, set to replace the modest church built in this place in 1524. The whole building took nearly 250 years to complete, from 1573 to 1813, over which period numerous architects, sculptors, and painters worked on it, bringing in a dazzling array of styles (Gothic, Baroque, Neoclassical, Renaissance, and even Churrigueresque) and diverse decorations. An exceptional collection of paintings, statues, and glittering altarpieces found inside the cathedral are complemented by the largest in the Americas 18th-century organs (nowadays frequently used in musical concerts).

A mortar-and-stone symbol of Catholicism in Mexico's life, this cathedral was often at the epicenter of historically important events, such as the coronation of Agustín de Iturbide and Ana María Huarte as the first emperors of Mexico in 1822, and many others.

Throughout its long life, the cathedral suffered multiple damages. During the earthquake on September 19, 2017, a cross known as La Esperanza, which used to crown one of the two belfries, toppled and fell to the ground. The spot where it landed is now an attraction in its own right.

Tip:
Since this is a functioning cathedral, make sure to avoid mass hours.
Walk down the sloping floor from the altar towards the back of the church, and look for the large pendulum suspended from the ceiling which tracks how much the building has sunk (due to the soft clay subsoil on which it stands) by marking a record on the floor. Also, check out the doorways and columns to see how the church is leaning.
Don't miss the Black Jesus (aka the "Lord of Poison") statue in the chapel at the back (you may want to read in advance to see why it's famous).

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 Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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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.
Coyoacan District Walking Tour

Coyoacan District Walking Tour

Translated from the Nahuatle language as “The Land of Coyotes”, Coyoacán is a relatively quiet neighborhood in the southern part of Mexico City. Formerly a rural village, over the years Coyoacán has become a rich pocket of art and history in the capital, closely associated with some iconic figures of the 20th century and the tumultuous times in which they lived.

One of its most famous...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Chapultepec Park Walking Tour

Chapultepec Park Walking Tour

Nicknamed "the Lungs of Mexico City", Chapultepec Park is a vast oasis of lush greenery in the heart of the Mexican capital, sprawling over 686 hectares of land, providing a vital source of oxygen for the city. Rich in natural beauty, historical landmarks, and vibrant atmosphere, throughout centuries, this park has inspired various works of literature, poetry, and visual art, further...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Historic Center Walking Tour

Historic Center Walking Tour

Mexico City is the oldest capital in the Americas and is one of the two founded by indigenous people. Originally known as Mexico Tenochtitlan, the city was built by the Mexicas (aka Aztecs) in 1325. According to a legend, the Mexicas' principal god, Huitzilopochtli, pointed out the site of the future settlement with an image of a golden eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus, devouring a...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Zona Rosa Walking Tour

Zona Rosa Walking Tour

Zona Rosa, or "Pink Zone" in English, is a vibrant neighborhood near the historic center of the Mexican capital which is known for its lively atmosphere and diverse cultural scene. The neighborhood's name comes from the pink-colored tiles abundantly used to pave the local streets.

The area rose to prominence in the early 20th century as a residential district for the wealthy...  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, including food. For centuries, food and drink have been an inseparable part of the city's culture. Within Mexico City's bustling historic center, you can find a variety of culinary gems that offer a taste of what we call diverse Mexican cuisine.

One of the must-visit spots here is the San Juan Market....  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles

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