Among the most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world, the Shrine of Guadalupe atop Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City honors the legendary 16th-century appearance of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, a local peasant. The shrine, also known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), is devoted to the patron saint of Mexico.
Two basilicas now stand at the Shrine of Guadalupe—the Old Basilica (1709) and the New Basilica (1976), which houses Juan Diego’s cloak with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Visitors can also climb the steps to the Capilla del Cerrito, the original hill chapel built on the site of Juan Diego’s vision. Many full-day tours combine a visit to the shrine with a tour of Teotihuacan.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entrance to the basilicas is free, but there is an admission fee for the Basilica Museum.
- Dress appropriately in modest clothing—shorts are not allowed.
- The Shrine of Guadalupe is wheelchair accessible.
- The shrine is closed on Mondays.
How to Get There
The Shrine of Guadalupe is located in the La Villa neighborhood in northern Mexico City. To get there, take metro Line 6 to La Villa Basilica, a few blocks from the shrine, or any number of city buses.
When to Get There
With thousands of daily visitors, the Shrine of Guadalupe is always busy, so arrive early to avoid the crowds. The most atmospheric time to visit is on December 12 for the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, when the shrine is the epicenter of countrywide celebrations including parades, special masses, and firework displays.
The Legend of the Shrine of Guadalupe
According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin in December 1531. In his vision, the apparition was a teenage girl who asked the recently baptized Aztec in his native Nahuatl to build a shrine in her honor on Tepeyac Hill. When the Spanish priests refused to believe Juan Diego's tale, she gave him a sign: roses in December. And when he gathered the flowers up in his cloak, her image miraculously appeared on it. Today, Juan Diego’s tilma (cloak) is on display at the Basilica of Guadalupe, and December 12 marks one of Mexico’s holiest celebrations.