Catedral Metropolitana

The Catedral Metropolitana in Mexico City is one of Mexico’s most iconic structures and a monument to the country’s history and the largest cathedral in Latin America.

The cathedral was built atop Templo Mayor, the Aztec temple where human sacrifices were performed and where the emperor stood on a ritual throne.

The conquistadors ordered a cathedral to be built on top of this sacred site, showing their domination over the Aztec people and furthering the Christianization of Mexico.

The construction began in 1573 and remained a work in progress during the entire colonial period, resulting in a mix of architectural styles, with successive generations of builders striving to incorporate the innovations of the day.

Upon entering, you'll see an elaborately carved and gilded altar of forgiveness. The altar was given its dark colour when it absorbed poison from a clergyman's lips. Behind it is the 18th-century altar of the kings, which is covered with gold leaf.

The cathedral has 14 chapels on each side, as well as intricately carved choir stalls by Juan de Rojas that were built in the 17th century.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Mexico City
El Zocalo
One of the world’s biggest city squares with an iconic Bandera monumental, which was once the ceremonial centre of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. Today it is known as Plaza de la Constitución.
Templo Mayor
The Templo Mayor or Great Temple (called Hueteocalli by the Aztecs) was the heart of the Aztec empire, a site where people would come to worship their gods. It was also a place of sacrifice, where human beings were killed as offerings to the gods.
Museo Nacional de Antropologia
The National Museum of Anthropology is the largest and most visited museum in Mexico, which was opened on September 21, 1964, by then-President Adolfo López Mateos, who dedicated it to the people of Mexico.
Chapultepec Castle
Chapultepec Castle is an immense stone edifice that sits atop a hill in the heart of Mexico City built by the Spanish in 1725 as a large manor house for their viceroy and commander-in-chief of the colony, New Spain.
Museo Nacional de Historia
Shows Mexico's history from Cortes to the 1910 Revolution
Tlatelolco was the most important commercial centre in pre-Hispanic times. In Nahuatl, Tlatelolco can be translated to "terrace" (Tlatelli) or "sandy point" (Xaltilolli).

Related Tours

The Historic Heart of Mexico City: Private Half-Day Walking Tour
Embark on a journey through 700 years of history in the heart of Mexico City and discover its historic centre on a pleasant walking tour stopping at many of the most popular and important landmarks that not even the locals know. Your professional tour guide will share with you anecdotes and curious facts that will make your tour a cultural experience that you will never forget.

On this private half-day tour, you will:

  • Start your tour at the Anthropology Museum, where you will see the Sun Stone, also known as the Aztec calendar, the Coatlicue;
  • Enjoy a Metrobus ride  with your guide, to the Historic Center until you reach the famous “Alameda” Park, the oldest urban park in the Americas;
  • See the emblematic Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City's most important performance space;
  • Learn about the history of the Postal Palace (Correo Mayor or Main Post Office);
  • See the Palace of Iturbide, a massive 18th-century mansion located in the historic heart of Mexico City;
  • Pass by the House of Tiles (Casa de Los Azulejos), an 18th-century palace covered in hand-painted tiles;
  • Walk along Francisco I. Madero Street, one of the original pedestrian streets named after an important figure of the Mexican Revolution;
  • Visit Templo Mayor, the most important building in the city of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) as it was the place where the religious ceremonies were performed;

Our tour starts at the Anthropology Museum, where you'll be able to appreciate select items from the extensive pre-Hispanic art collection housed within the museum's walls. During the tour, our guide will provide insights into notable artefacts such as the Sun Stone, also known as the Aztec calendar, as well as the Coatlicue, and several other pieces that offer a glimpse into the beliefs, way of life, and spirituality of the diverse ancient Mexican civilizations.

After a short metro bus ride, you will continue through the centre of Mexico City, an area full of emblematic buildings. Your guide will talk about the history of the area and how it represents a focal point for Mexicans today. 

Built using stones from the Aztec Great Temple, or Templo Mayor, the cathedral is not far from the ruins of that sacred site for the Aztecs. Walking through its ruins, your guide will tell you how the monumental building arose in layers over time, as well as the grisly details of the Aztec religion. 

The site marks where the Aztecs, in the period of their history when they were a nomadic tribe without a home, felt a divine command from the god Huitzilopochtli to be fulfilled when they saw an eagle eat a snake on a cactus. It was gradually built over a shrine marking the spot and many human sacrifices were performed at the top. 


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