South America

The 7 Most Beautiful Cathedrals in South America

Christianity may have reached Latin America a lot later than Europe, but you couldn’t tell,  judging by the current number of Christians and cathedrals around the continent. Here is our selection of the most beautiful cathedrals in South America:

7. Catedral Basilica de Salta – Salta, Argentina


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Painted in pink and yellow, the Cathedral of Salta, Argentina looks like a beautifully shaped strawberry and vanilla ice-cream good enough to eat. It was completely destroyed in the 17th century and its reconstruction lasted until 1882.


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Catedral Basilica de Salta houses an important religious relic, El Senor de Los Milagros (The Lord of Miracles), a statuette of Jesus Christ which was being transported by a Spanish ship that sank in Argentinean waters. It was miraculously washed ashore intact and placed in the Cathedral of Salta. Three important historical figures are buried here, of which general Martin Miguel de Guemes, who defeated the invading Spanish, is the most important.

6. Catedral Primada – Bogota, Colombia


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The biggest cathedral in Colombia and one of the biggest in South America, the Primary Cathedral of Bogota was built between 1807 and 1823. When the Spanish founded Bogota, they built 12 huts and a hay-church that later became the Cathedral of Bogota, so you could say it is as old as the city.


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The Roman-Catholic Church of Bogota is a fine example of colonial religious architecture and houses a number of paintings by Gregorio Vasquez de Arce y Ceballos, the most important painter in colonial Colombia. Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada, founder of Bogota, is buried here.

5. Catedral de la Inmaculada Conception – Cuelca, Ecuador


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Also referred to as the New Cathedral of Cuenca, the Inmaculada Conception Cathedral is located opposite Calderon Park, in Cuenca, Ecuador. Because the old cathedral had become too small for the growing population, construction of a new cathedral began in 1885 and lasted for a century.


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The New Cathedral of Cuenca combines many different architectural styles, with Romanesque being the most obvious one. It features 3 beautiful domes, covered with blue tiles brought in all the way from Czechoslovakia.

4. St. George Cathedral – Georgetown, Guyana


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Construction of St. George’s Cathedral began in 1888 and was completed in 1894. Compared to other religious edifices that took centuries to complete, the cathedral of Georgetown, Guyana was finished pretty fast. The reason behind this record time is the entire cathedral is made of wood.


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Original plans featured a stone building, but they were rejected due to the weight and expenses of the project. Now St. George’s Cathedral is the tallest freestanding wooden building in the world, visible from all directions of Georgetown.

3. Cathedral of Lima – Lima, Peru


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Considered one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world, the Roman-Catholic Cathedral of Lima lies in downtown Lima, Peru. Its construction began in 1535 and it suffered many transformations throughout the centuries, but managed to preserve its original colonial style.


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The Cathedral of Lima features three large front doorways and no less than 14 side doors. Francisco Pizarro, the famous Spanish conquistador laid the first stone and carried the first log used to build the cathedral. His tomb can be found inside.

2. Catedral da S̩ РSao Paolo, Brazil


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The Cathedral of Sao Paolo is the largest religious building in the city and the 4th biggest neo-gothic cathedral in the world. Construction started in 1913 and it was inaugurated in 1954, but the two towers were not completed until 1967. Over 800 tons of rare marble were used to construct the Catedral da Sé.


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The Metropolitan Cathedral of Sao Paolo features one of the largest organs in South America and sits upon a large crypt that can rightfully be considered a beautiful underground church.

1. Las Lajas – Ipiales, Colombia


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Considered by many the most beautiful cathedral in the world, Las Lajas Sanctuary looks like a building you would expect to find in a fantasy world. It was built between 1916 and 1949, in the canyon of the Guaitara River, with only the donations of local religious folk.


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The name “Las Lajas” refers to a sort of flat stone found in the Andes Mountains. Apparently, an apparition of the Virgin Mary was seen on one of these stones.

5 Comments for "The 7 Most Beautiful Cathedrals in South America"

Hwright says on January 9th, 2011 at 4:53 am:

Beautiful! Saw the Salta Cathedral…spectacular!

kennedy says on September 3rd, 2011 at 3:31 pm:



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