San Jose Cathedral (ruins), Antigua

San Jose Cathedral (ruins), Antigua

The first cathedral on this site was begun in 1545; construction was so poor, however, that the structure was in a constant state of disrepair, and an earthquake in 1583 brought down much of the roof. In 1670 work started on a new cathedral worthy of the town's role as a capital city.

For 11 years the town watched as conscripted Maya labored and the most spectacular colonial building in Central America took shape. The scale of the new cathedral was astounding: a vast dome, five naves, eighteen chapels, and a central chamber measuring 90m by 20m. Its altar was inlaid with mother-of-pearl, ivory and silver, and carvings of saints and paintings by the most revered of European and colonial artists covered the walls.

The new cathedral held out the 1689/1717 quakes, but its walls were weakened and the 1773 upheaval sent them tumbling to the ground. Today, two of the chapels have been restored as the Church of San José, which opens off the Parque Central; inside is a figure of Christ by the colonial sculptor Quirio Cataño, who also carved the famous Black Christ of Esquipulas.

Behind the church, entered from 5 Calle Oriente, are the ruins of the rest of the structure; a mass of fallen masonry, broken arches and hefty pillars, cracked and moss-covered, the great original cupola now a window to the sky. At the very rear of the original nave, steps lead down to a burial vault, blackened by candle smoke, that's regularly used for Maya religious ceremonies – an example of the coexistence of pagan and Catholic beliefs, so characteristic of Guatemala.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Antigua. 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.

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San Jose Cathedral (ruins) on Map

Sight Name: San Jose Cathedral (ruins)
Sight Location: Antigua, Guatemala (See walking tours in Antigua)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Antigua, Guatemala

Create Your Own Walk in Antigua

Create Your Own Walk in Antigua

Creating your own self-guided walk in Antigua 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.
Antigua Introduction Walking Tour

Antigua Introduction Walking Tour

Antigua, Guatemala, which is sometimes known as La Antigua, dates back to 1543. This city was the third capital of the Spanish colony. Surrounded by volcanoes, the city of Antigua is a small yet very picturesque example of Spanish colonial architecture. Jesuit and Franciscan orders have had a presence in this region since the 17th century, contributing to its rich colonial religious life.

The...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Antigua Museums

Antigua Museums

With a rich heritage combining Spanish colonialism and Mayan culture, Antigua is a fasinating place to visit in Latin America. Several museums in town are well worth exploring if you to learn more about the history of the country. Follow this self guided tour to visit the best museums in Antigua and get a history lesson along the way.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Ancient Ruins of Antigua

Ancient Ruins of Antigua

It would appear as if the time machine has finally been invented in a place none other than Antigua. The glorious ancient city offers so much history beyond its streets and buildings, fountains and courtyards, that the great ruins are almost impossible to explore in a single day. Luckily, with this self-guided walk, you will get to select from the myriad vestiges set against the impressive...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Parque Central Walking Tour

Parque Central Walking Tour

Parque Central is the center of social life for the residents in Antigua. What makes the park so popular for tourists is the opportunity to visit a good number of famous buildings around the park. Follow this self guided walk to explore the history behind the buildings at the very center of the city.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.3 Km or 0.2 Miles