Don’t let the lack of spires and bell towers fool you—Managua’s modern Metropolitan Cathedral (New Cathedral, or La Nueva Catedral) is intended as Nicaragua’s preeminent church. A unique structure of a square base topped by 63 translucent domes built in 1993, the then-controversial cathedral is now an unforgettable sight.
Managua’s Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was completed in at significant expense—$45 million, some of which was donated by the owner of Domino’s Pizza—which upset some Managuans, as did its unique architectural style. But the project moved forward to replace the Old Cathedral of Managua (Catedral de Managua), which was largely destroyed in the devastating 1972 earthquake (though its ruins are still a popular Managua attraction). For this reason, the Metropolitan Cathedral is affectionately nicknamed the New Cathedral, and is attended by the religiously devout and architecturally curious alike. Take a lap around the cathedral to fully appreciate its avant-garde design by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, or visit during mass for a glimpse into local Catholic traditions. Look for a Managua city tour that includes a stop at the New Cathedral for a chance to learn about its context, history, and significance.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The New Cathedral is a must for architecture fans and those with religious interests.
- Plan to spend about an hour at the cathedral.
- If going inside the church, dress modestly and keep your voice hushed.
How to Get There
The best way to reach the Metropolitan Cathedral is in one of Managua’s many cheap taxis. A number of nearby bus stops also service the neighborhood, home to popular Managua attractions such as the Rubén Darío National Theatre (Teatro Nacional Rubén Darío) and the National Palace of Culture (Palacio Nacional de la Cultura).
When to Get There
The cathedral is open year-round. Mass is held at 12pm and 6pm Tuesday through Saturday, and at 8am, 11am, and 6pm on Sunday. The weekday 12pm services are typically in English.
The Metropolitan Cathedral is sometimes referred to as La Chichona, derived from the Spanish slang word chichi, or breast. The nickname references the cathedral’s 63 domes, which represent the 63 parishes of the archdiocese.