Mexico has an endless number of Catholic churches, temples, chapels, and cathedrals that satisfy any traveler interested in this type of architecture. Someone once told us that if one visited Mexico wanting to see all its beautiful temples, it would be impossible since there is one on every corner, and each one is special. In the same way, we dare to say that Mexico has almost more churches than taco shops, and they all tell different, exciting stories.
Religious architecture in Mexico has found its greatest exponent in the impressive churches spread throughout the country. Temples, places of worship and devotion, where time seems to stop and simultaneously reflect the place's history and tradition.
Some buildings feature unique and eclectic designs, while others have extraordinarily ornate interiors. However, the element that makes each so special is the people around them; several of these churches are icons of the city where they are located. Thus, they are a vital point to learn about the customs and traditions of the town they're in.
Of diverse architectural styles and invocations, today in Lolo, we present a selection of Mexico's most beautiful and attractive churches. Although this is only a very short list of some Catholic temples that call our attention, whether for religious, artistic, historical, or cultural reasons, they are all magnificent, so join us in discovering them!
Parroquia de Santa Prisca | Taxco, Guerrero
The colonial town of Taxco, in Guerrero, is known for its artisans' outstanding work with silver (and for being Lolo's hometown). Still, it is also home to one of the country's most spectacular and emblematic churches, Parroquia de Santa Prisca y San Sebastián.
This is one of the most notable churches in the State of Guerrero. It was built in the 18th century by order of Don José de la Borda, a prominent mining businessman. Santa Prisca is, from any angle, a prodigy where architecture, sculpture, and painting merge into symbolism. In addition, it has impressive local legends that bring its construction to life.
Legend has it that one afternoon in 1751 when the construction of the parish began, José de la Borda (who ordered the construction of the church) was away in business when a terrible storm hit. The workers, very frightened by the lightning, knelt down to pray when suddenly Santa Prisca appeared holding the lightning bolts in her hands, preventing them from causing harm to the people who were in the place. Inside the temple, there is a painting that tells of this legend.
Inside the parish church, you can see its nine altarpieces covered with gold leaf and pink stone pillars, also ornamented, which produces a contrast in color and shape that further enhances the altarpieces.
Moreover, Santa Prisca was one of the tallest buildings in Mexico at one point in history. It is simply a church not to be missed!
Templo de Santo Domingo | Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
This building is an icon not only of the city of Oaxaca but of all of Mexico. And all those who visit Oaxaca cannot avoid stopping to admire this beautiful construction that contrasts with the colors of Oaxaca. Which is why it is often photographed as a Oaxacan landmark. Furthermore, it is located at the end of one of the most central pedestrian avenues in Oaxaca; which makes thousands of people visit this temple year after year.
It was built over a period of 200 years, from the 16th to the 18th century, giving this church a rich history. Throughout its history, the Convent of Santo Domingo has been witness to several important events in the history of Mexico: it was converted into a military warehouse, a stable, closed to Catholic worship in times of Mexico's Reform War, and then returned again to Church by Porfirio Díaz.
The impressive interior is made of ornately carved stone and wood, covered in over 60,000 sheets of 24-karat gold leaf. Adjacent to the church is a former Dominican monastery, now a museum and cultural center, as well as an impressive ethnobotanical garden.
Catedral Metropolitana | Ciudad de México, CDMX
On the ruins of the old Templo del Sol (Temple of the Sun) stands the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City. Located in the historic center of the city, this construction is considered one of the most important buildings of Hispanic American art. Symbol of the triumph of the Catholic religion over the Mexica gods, the history of the Metropolitan Cathedral is also the history of Viceroyalty Mexico. It was built over three centuries, so we can recognize Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical elements that, intertwining harmoniously, form a work of great cultural richness that is unique in its kind.
In the year 1524, Hernán Cortés placed the first stone; an act of great symbolic significance since it was built at the crossroads of the roads that led to the center of the Aztec capital. Moreover, it was made using rocks that had formed part of the Great Temple of the Great Tenochtitlan.
One of the most outstanding elements of the interior is the choir, richly ornamented in the Baroque style, with two monumental organs. Today, this building is one of the greatest works of colonial architecture, the pinnacle of baroque in the country, and the largest cathedral in all of Mexico!
Iglesia de Santa María Tonantzintla | Cholula, Puebla
Cholula is a Magical Town with the most churches in all of Mexico. It has so many churches that even a myth says it has a church for each day of the year, but the truth is that it has 39.
However, one of Cholula's outstanding monuments is the Catholic and indigenous work known as the Church of Santa María Tonantzintla. The church of Santa María Tonantzintla is located in the town of the same name, located approximately 6 miles southwest of the City of Puebla and 2 miles south of the center of San Pedro Cholula, being an auxiliary board of San Andrés Cholula.
Its name originates from Nahuatl and means "place of our little mother." In pre-Hispanic culture, Tonantzin was the goddess of life, fertility, and corn, and was deeply associated with the protection of men.
This singular temple, built at the end of the 18th century, is one of the most beautiful examples of the famous Mexican baroque style, taken to its maximum expression. From the outside, this church would look like any other, but its interior surprises everyone who visits it. Its walls, vaults, and dome are filled with cherubs and angels with clear indigenous features that seem to spill out among a veritable jungle of tropical fruits and highly colored foliage.
The residents of the community where it is located say that this church is special for those women who cannot have children since they will be granted the desired child by visiting it and requesting the Virgin Mary (Tonantzin) for her favor.
Catedral Basílica de Zacatecas | Zacatecas, Zacatecas
If we had to choose a cathedral that represents the Mexican baroque style, it would undoubtedly be the Cathedral of Zacatecas. This cathedral is the architectural jewel of Zacatecas per excellence. Declared World Heritage by UNESCO, it is one of the most representative works of the Mexican baroque, that opulent and magnificent baroque, tinged with indigenous, so different from the European in its technique, spirit, and internal symbolism.
This beautiful temple, specifically its façade, stands out among the city's buildings. Built in pink stone in the middle of the 18th century, its main door shows the style known as Churrigueresque or ultra-Baroque in full swing at that time. The entry contrasts with the interior in a more austere neoclassical style. You can imagine why the Cathedral of Zacatecas is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Mexico, right?
Templo de San Francisco Acatepec | Cholula, Puebla
Given that Cholula is a town filled with churches, there's no doubt that at least two made the list. In this case, the Temple of San Francisco Acatepec is a religious monument from the 18th century, characteristic of the baroque architecture of Mexico, especially recognized for its colorful façade that makes it seem as if the church is dancing with the street. It is located in the town of San Francisco Acatepec in the municipality of San Andrés Cholula in the State of Puebla and was one of the first temples built in the region.
Built in the 16th century, the church of San Francisco Acatepec shines from many kilometers back thanks to its colorful and spectacular face of mosaics made of authentic Talavera mosaics and red bricks that make it unique and breathtaking. Every inch of its body praises Mexican baroque art and the perseverance of its traditions.
Inside the church, there are various sculptures, a beautiful vault with gold ornamentation and angel faces, plasterwork, and various landscapes that recall some episodes from the Holy Scriptures. Although surely and inevitably, the first thing that steals your attention when visiting this site is its beautiful façade.
Parroquia de San Miguel de Arcángel | San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
The parish of San Miguel de Arcángel has become a representative icon of the beloved San Miguel de Allende. Without the majestic European-style parish that stands in the center of San Miguel de Allende, this city in Guanajuato would probably not be one of the most longed-for visits or inhabited by people from all over the world.
The original parish church was built at the end of the 17th century with a conventional and modest design. In the 19th century (between 1880 and 1890) the famous Don Zeferino Gutiérrez built a new façade inspired by drawings, engravings, and postcards of European cathedrals. Today this church is one of the most photographed churches in Mexico and the most iconic in San Miguel de Allende.
What do you think of this list? Which one of these churches have you visited? Did your favorite made the list? Which other would you add? Let us know in the comments below, you know we love having the opportunity to hear from you and your experiences!
Also, don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter where we make sure to share this and many more articles about Mexican culture, artisanal techniques, artisan's stories, recipes, and more! We also make sure to give our familia of subscribers exclusive promotions, gifts, first-hand look at all new products and, of course, make sure to let you know any of our store's updates!