Just outside of Buenos Aires, the town of Lujan is famous for its neo-Gothic cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of Lujan, the patron saint of Argentina. The basilica is an architectural landmark—its twin towers stand an imposing 348 feet (106 meters) tall—as well as one of Argentina’s most visited pilgrimage sites.
Each October, Argentine Catholics make a pilgrimage on foot to the Lujan Basilica. It’s a 15-hour journey from Buenos Aires, led by the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and considered one of the most important events of the year for Catholics in this region. Non-pilgrims can explore the basilica with or without a guide, but be sure to pay a visit to the basilica crypt, where Virgin Mary statues from around the world are displayed.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There is no admission fee to visit the basilica.
- Mass is held daily.
- The basilica is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Lujan is located around 50 miles (75 kilometers) west of Buenos Aires; it’s about a 1-hour drive. You can also reach Lujan by train, but there are no direct routes and it is considerably quicker to travel by taxi or join a guided tour.
When to Get There
More than 1 million people descend on the basilica during the annual pilgrimage in October, which is by far the busiest time of year. For those who are hoping to avoid the crowds, visiting on a weekday morning is the best choice, while the most atmospheric time for photos is at sunset.
The Legend of the Lujan Basilica
According to local legend, in 1630 a man from Santiago del Estero was transporting two statues of the Virgin Mary. As his horses approached the banks of the Río Lujan, they stopped and refused to move until one of the statues was removed and left at the site. That site is now the town of Lujan, and the basilica, which was built between 1887 and 1935, houses the statue behind its main altar.