Shrine of Guadalupe
The Patron Saint of Mexico, and of all the Americas, is the Virgin of Guadalupe. According to legend, she appeared to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin on December 9, 1531. In his vision, she was a teenage girl of indigenous complexion, and spoke to the recently baptized Aztec in his native Nahuatl. There, atop Tepeyac Hill, she asked him to build a shrine in her honor. When the Spanish priests refused to believe Juan Diego's tale, she gave him a sign: Roses in December, and the miraculous painting, echoed all over the world, and still revered today.
Today, the Shrine of Guadalupe is the most visited Catholic religious site on Earth, and pilgrims attribute to her image all manner of miracles. They pack the enormous basilica, designed to offer a fine view of her image from anywhere within, asking her help with everything from relationship woes to healing terminal cancer.
In the days leading up to December 12, the anniversary of the miracle of roses, pilgrims from all over the world arrive, often on their knees. The entire country joins in with the festivities, holding parades, firework shows, and special Masses, with the center of celebrations right here.
There are actually 2 basilicas dedicated to the the Virgin of Guadalupe, next to each other on the northern outskirts of Mexico City. The original 1531 Basílica Antigua (Old Basilica) is a classic piece of Spanish Colonial architecture, with Mudéjar elements and ornate retablos; today it holds a museum of religious art (closed Mondays).
Crowds visiting Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe outgrew her original home, and in 1974 Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez was tapped to build the much larger and more modern Shrine of Guadalupe that currently houses her miraculous image.
There are 2 metro stations within walking distance of the shrines, Basílica and La Villa.