Guadalajara is my favorite city in Mexico. It is the capital city of Jalisco, and is the second largest city in the country behind Mexico City. Guadalajara is a wonderful combination of cosmopolitan city and a historic center, blending the old with the new, the modern with the traditional, and the hip with the historic. It is considered the Mexican equivalent of our Silicon Valley, with strong electronics and high tech industries.
Contrast Guadalajara’s very modern business core with one of the oldest and most beautiful structures in the city – the Guadalajara Cathedral, a minor basilica that is part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Guadalajara. Located in the downtown Centro Histórico (Avenue 16 de Septiembre, Hidalgo y Morelos, map), the neo-Gothic towers of the Cathedral dominate the skyline.
The Cathedral was originally built during the 16-17th century, and over the years parts of it have been destroyed by fire, earthquake, and the ravages of time. Painstaking work at repairs and rebuilding have kept the structure as close to original as possible.
Walking into the cathedral is like taking a big step back in time. The main altar is made of marble and silver, but you’ll also find ten other altars around the side of the cathedral. Behind the main altar are sufficient chairs to seat the council of Cardinals, should they ever all show up for Mass. The cathedral has beautiful stained glass (imported from France, and reminiscent of the stained glass windows of Notre Dame), many religious artifacts and pieces of art, a mural by Mexican artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and relics of St. Innocent (among others). This is also home to the largest organ in the country.
Please remember to wear respectful clothing when visiting the Cathedral as it is an active place of worship.
Surrounding the cathedral are spacious plazas perfect for strolling, getting a bite to eat, people watching, or enjoying the many artisans that set up shop here. Don’t hurry through! Slow down your pace, and enjoy the culture and history of Guadalajara.
Photo credit: personal collection