Mexico’s patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, is believed to have appeared on the site of this church, making it an important pilgrimage site for many Catholics.
More than 12 million people visit the Basilica de Santa Maria each year. They come to see the site at which the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a poor Indian, and to see the cloak with her image that is displayed there.
To get the most out of your visit to the Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe, it is important to learn about what many believe to be its history. In 1531, it is claimed that a poor Indian named Juan Diego saw a vision of the Virgin Mary on what is now the church’s current site. He revealed a second image of the Virgin on his cloak, which convinced a bishop to erect the church in her honor.
Millions of visitors have come to the Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe to see the sacred cloth and worship, but unstable ground forced officials to move the relic to a new location. The Old Basilica was closed for repairs for many years, but it is now open to visitors again.
A new Basílica was erected next to the original church in 1974. This houses the sacred cloak behind bullet-proof glass. Step on the moving walkway to view the relic from below. The New Basilica has a distinctive circular shape to allow up to 50,000 people to see the religious icon simultaneously.
After exploring both the new and old Basilicas, spend a few hours enjoying the religious artifacts that are housed in the Basilica Museum. Take a walk around The Villa, a cluster of four chapels that surround the New and Old Basilicas. Climb the stairs to the Capilla del Pocito (Hill Chapel) where Juan Diego had his vision.
If your schedule allows, visit the Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe on December 12 to experience the Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival. Thousands of people make the pilgrimage for this holiday, which features services and other festivities around the religious buildings.
You can easily access the Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe from Mexico City’s historic center by bus, subway or cab.