Famous Religious Edifices (Self Guided), Mexico City

Mexico City is considered a great vacation destination, featuring something interesting and entertaining for everyone. The landmarks here are amazing and the architecture is impressive and unique. Every religious building in this city is a part not only of Mexican religion but also of Mexican culture and life. Take this walking tour to discover some of the most famous churches in Mexico City.
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Famous Religious Edifices Map

Guide Name: Famous Religious Edifices
Guide Location: Mexico » Mexico City (See other walking tours in Mexico City)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Sagrario Metropolitano
  • Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral)
  • Iglesia de San Francisco (Church of San Francisco)
  • Santa Veracruz Monastery
  • Church of San Juan de Dios
  • San Hipolito Church
Sagrario Metropolitano

1) Sagrario Metropolitano

Attached to the larger Metropolitan Cathedral flanking Mexico City's Zocalo, you will find the Sagrario, considered a masterpiece of Churrigueresque Baroque architecture in Latin America. Built in the 18th century to keep the archives and vestments of the archbishop, it has been declared a UNESCO landmark and is impressive in its own way.

With geometric designs in the form of pilasters, the altarpiece pattern in the facade has a unique resemblance to the main altarpiece inside the church, which in turn, resembles the Altar of the Kings inside the neighboring cathedral. The high altar has twelve stained glass windows in the neoclassical architectural style, but is not made of wood or gold like those in other churches – instead, it uses white stone in the shape of a Greek cross, surrounded by walls of 'tenzontle' (a reddish porous volcanic rock) which may be the church's most distinguishing feature.

The Sagrario Metropolitan stands on a drained lake and its foundations are slowly sinking because of the instability of the soil beneath. Efforts are underway to stabilize the building and other nearby structures.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am–8pm
Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral)

2) Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral) (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.

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
Iglesia de San Francisco (Church of San Francisco)

3) Iglesia de San Francisco (Church of San Francisco)

The Templo y Convento de San Francisco was once part of the largest convent in New Spain, whose chapels, monastery, hospital, and orchards covered 30,000 square meters. Destroyed during the 19th-century Reformation, only this church remains; apparently, the third to be built on the site in the 1710s, after the two sunk into the soft soil underneath Mexico City and had to be torn down.

Although, the entire building is known as the San Francisco Church, the entrance on Madero Street is actually the entrance to what was a side chapel in the once enormous complex, as the main facade is walled in and cannot be seen. Nonetheless, you can still witness a glimpse of the San Francisco's past glory: in front of the chapel is an atrium with several sets of stairs leading down to the church below (because it, too, is sinking). Inside there is an 18th-century gold-covered altarpiece dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe as well as the entrance to what was once the Chapel of the Second Station.

As you explore Centro Histórico, make sure you mark this on your map for an important milestone of Mexican faith.
Santa Veracruz Monastery

4) Santa Veracruz Monastery

The Santa Veracruz Monastery in the historic center of Mexico City is one of the oldest religious establishments in Mexico City and was the third most important church in the area in the 16th century. It was established by a religious brotherhood founded by Hernán Cortés.

The parish church was originally built in 1586, but this building was replaced in the 18th century to the one standing today. The former monastery building and hospital now house the Franz Mayer Museum, but the church still maintains its original function. Most of its interior decorations are gone, but it is still home to two important images, the Christ of the Seven Veils and the Virgin of the Remedies (also called La Gachupina).
Sight description based on wikipedia
Church of San Juan de Dios

5) Church of San Juan de Dios

The Church of San Juan de Dios served as a hospital, church and monastery for 400 years before housing the vast collection of artifacts belonging to the German stockbroker Franz Mayer. It is now called the Franz Mayer museum and is located in Avenida Hidalgo, Mexico City, on the western side of Plaza de Santa Veracruz.

The building is a historic structure in Mexico City and was first constructed for a flour mill. Later Dr. Pedro Lopez, the first Mexican medical graduate, converted it into a hospital. At first the hospital was run by Dr. Lopez, then the Dominican order and finally by the Brothers Hospitalliers of St. John of God. The Brothers Hospitalliers of St. John of God served the people from 1604 and constructed the present church complex in 1620. In the 1980s, the Public Works Ministry granted permission to the Bank of Mexico, who held the trusteeship of the collection of art and objects of Franz Mayer, to convert the building into a museum. The institution was opened in 1986.

The collections displayed at the museum include traditional Mexican silver artifacts, books, pottery, watches, gadgetry, objects of art and antique furnishings. There is a public library in the upper cloister with over 10,000 books. The museum is open for visitors Tuesdays through Sundays and is free for public viewing on Tuesdays.
San Hipolito Church

6) San Hipolito Church

The San Hipolito Church stands near the northwest corner of the Alameda in Avenida Hidalgo, Mexico City. The church was built to commemorate the conquest of Tenochtitlan by the Spanish.

On the 13th of August 1521, San Hipolito’s Day in the Christian Calendar, the Spanish overcame the Aztecs at the spot where the Church was built. The Spanish suffered heavy casualties and the chapel was built as a monument for those killed in the battle. The church was dedicated to San Hipolito who also became the patron saint of Mexico city.

The building was completed in 1739 and has a Baroque architectural style with Moorish interiors. The two towers located in front of the church have a unique 45 degree angle. The main bell tower has a Moorish design. The floor plan of the building is a Latin cross with the central dome rising at the crossing point. The church was built with uncoated Tezontle volcanic rock.

The building is also called the church of St. Jude. Locals worship the image of St. Jude Thaddeus located within the church for help with financial and employment related problems. Special masses are held on the 28th of every month in his honor and the main festival of San Judas Tadeo is celebrated on the 28th of October.

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