Templo a Cristo Rey

Calzada de Tlalpan #1409 03300 Ciudad de México, México
55 5106 4969

The Basílica de Guadalupe has become one of the world’s most concurred religious landmarks, attracting several millions of visitors per year. That modern-looking basílica was built in 1974 after the old basílica deteriorated very quickly during the XX century. Residents of Mexico City and tourists quickly embraced the new basíllica and it became an instant icon of the city. But what happened to the old basílica? Well, it wasn’t demolished and it still sits next to its newer counterpart and it’s now called the Templo Expiatorio a Cristo Rey. This “original” basílica’s construction started in 1695 and it didn’t end till 1709, it was designed by architect Pedro de Arrieta with support from the archbishop Juan Ortega y Montañés. It’s characterized by its doric interior and marble statues of Fray Juán de Zumárraga, as well as Juán Diego, the indigenous peasant who had the original visions of the Virgin Mary on Tepeyac hill, the same location where the Templo Expiatorio a Cristo Rey is located.

The building as a whole was granted basílica status by Pope Piux X in 1904. The cloak worn by Juan Diego that fateful day, which was imprinted with the image of the Virgin Mary was on display in this church from 1709 to 1974 and is now naturally displayed at the new basílica under bulletproof glass after the original one was bombed by an anti-religious fanatic, who placed a bomb inside a flower vase, as a result, the building sank even further and suffered damage but fortunately, the cloak remained unscathed. There’s an iron cross at the new basilica commemorating this incident. The Templo Expiatorio a Cristo Rey has suffered structural damages caused by the sinking due to the soft soil that was once a lakebed. The temple was closed indefinitely for many years during the time of construction of the new basílica and only reopened recently, reparations were carried out by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), and even though it has remained open to the public, once inside people can appreciate steel beams and scaffolding supporting the structure. The big Mexico City earthquake of 2017 only re-opened some of this old building’s cracks/wounds.

This old building has endured 320 years of existence in this world and has the battle scars to prove it, as such one must be extra careful when visiting if you’re lucky enough to find it open, because who knows how long we’re going to have it around.


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