The 2009 Holy Week has begun. A reason for many to get away from the
city for a couple of days, but others actually take the opportunity to
explore Bogotá’s most important churches and cathedrals.
Being the capital city of a devout Catholic country, Bogotá offers a large quantity of churches and other religious temples. Many inhabitants have the tradition of following some sort of self-organized tour through the center, admiring the many monuments ahead of one of Christianity’s principal dates, Easter.
Arguably the most important of these temples is the Catedral Primada, located across Bolivar Square from City Hall. This cathedral, or at least this version of the structure was finished in 1829 and is the official seat of the Archbishop Primate of Bogotá. The cathedral holds the remains of Gonzaló Jiménez de Quesada, the Spanish founder of Bogotá.
Right next door to the cathedral is the Capilla del Sagrario. This year, this chapel hosts the Jesus statue that is usually to be seen at Monserrate, up on the mountains. As authorities warned people not to climb to Monserrate this year due to possible avalanches, one at least gets the chance to see the statue down in the city.
Walking half a block eastwards from the square, one will find San Ignacio, a church originally built by Jesuits and inspired by San Jesus church in Rome. The structure combines all kinds of styles, from Renaissance to Baroque. Coluccini was responsible for the building’s decoration and certainly, it shows.
Further up north, but still in Carrera Séptima visitors find a cluster of three important churches. La Tercera, La Veracruz and San Francisco. This trinity offers great interiors as well as exteriors, and those that do want to visit more churches but don’t feel like walking all around the city, could simply opt to limit themselves to these three. The churches are easily reached by Transmilenio, using Museo del Oro station.
Still have some energy left? Then don’t forget to walk a bit east to Bogotá oldest neighborhood, the Candelária. This colonial area offers many smaller and bigger churches and makes one feel like they are back in the 17th century. And when it becomes time for a break, simply pick one of the many little bars or restaurants you will find in the neighborhood. However, beware of pickpockets on particularly crowded days!
A religious tour through Bogotá will certainly prepare even the most devout Catholics for this year’s Easter festivities, and many will want to join the locals making this an annual tradition for themselves and their families.