Located in the North of Mexico City, The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, affectionately known simply as La Villa, holds huge significance for Mexican and Catholic culture alike. The church is one of the most visited holy sites in the world with thousands of Catholics seeking to make the sacred pilgrimage to the site each year.
According to the traditional account, back in 1531, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Aztec convert to Roman Catholicism was walking to his village just outside Mexico City when Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Roman Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary, appeared. She was surrounded by light and spoke in Juan Diego's native language and requested a church was built in her honour on the spot where they stood.
But when Juan Diego rush to tell a nearby Spanish Bishop what had happened, the Bishop doubted whether these events were the truth and demanded a sign as proof. The Virgin Mary appeared for a second time and told Juan Diego to gather flowers. Miraculously, despite the fact it was winter, roses bloomed at his feet. When he returned to the Bishop to present the flowers, an image of The Virgin Mary herself had appeared on the cloth of his cloak. A shrine was immediately constructed and the story was used to convert millions of indigenous people across South America. The original, sacred image imprinted on the cloth is still housed at the site today.
The site is split into two Basilicias, old and new. The Old Basilica was constructed between 1695 and 1709 and has recently re-opened after extensive renovations. The building was built on top of a former lake so has begun to sink into the ground, creating a strange aesthetic to the exterior of the building. Also, in 1921 a bomb was planted in the church cuasing huge damage throughout the building, but fortunately the original cloth featuring The Virgin Mary's image remained intact.
As a result the New Basilica was built in 1976 and the image moved, complete with bullet proof glass. The circular building was designed in order to maximise the view of the image to those inside. Able to house 10,000 and supported by a pylon that is designed to prevent sinkage has ensured the image can be shared with generations to come.
As one of the most popular and impressive sights in Mexico City with stunning arhcitecture and huge cultural significance to people across the world, it is one you do not want to miss.