Built on Aztec temple ruins, no building better exemplifies the history of Mexico City than the Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana). The vast stone edifice blends architectural styles and building innovations across four centuries. Highlights include the gilded Altar of Forgiveness and the painted canvases lining the sacristy.
The Metropolitan Cathedral’s first stones were famously taken from the rubble of the Aztec temple that once stood in its place. The largest cathedral in the Americas, it features a rare mix of Renaissance, neoclassical, and Mexican baroque styles. The city’s soft lake bed foundation has caused the cathedral to slowly sink over the years and tilt gently to one side; efforts are ongoing to help even out the foundation so the church will sink uniformly.
Things to Know
- The Metropolitan Cathedral is a must-see for history and architecture buffs, and all first-time visitors to Mexico City.
- Entry to the main cathedral is free, but there is a small fee to access the bell tower, choir, or sacristy.
- Visitors are asked to dress respectfully, as this is an active religious site.
- Exploration of the cathedral may be limited during Mass and other religious events.
How to Get There
The cathedral is in Mexico City’s Zócalo, in the heart of the city center. To avoid traffic, take Line 2 of the city’s efficient, highly accessible metro system to the Zócalo stop, just steps from the cathedral.
When to Get There
Visitors are welcome to explore the Metropolitan Cathedral from 8am to 8pm daily, except during Mass and other religious events (check the website for schedules); hours for the bell tower may be more limited. The building is especially striking at dusk, when its stone facade seems to glow in the evening light.
Temples Old and New
For more history and an incredible vista, follow your cathedral visit with a drink at El Mayor, a café a few blocks away. The café’s rooftop terrace overlooks the fascinating ruins of the Aztec Templo Mayor. You’ll also enjoy a view of the cathedral and many of Mexico City’s most historic buildings.