Having moved recently to a new part of Mexico City called Lindavista, I decided to check out some of the nearby scenery.
Back when I was apartment searching around here a few weeks ago, I remember coming across some building that seemed interesting but I had no idea what it was.
Well, it’s apparently called the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Today, I finally got around to visiting the place for the first time ever.
So what was it like?
Walking to the Basilica
Keep in mind, the Basilica is actually like a 5 minute walk from my current apartment.
Very easy to get to.
The closer you get to it, the more street vendors and shops you’ll see trying to sell you stuff.
From what I saw, most of them looked like necklaces or bracelets.
With some shops also selling other religious items.
I never bought any of them because I don’t wear jewellery and I’m an atheist.
Still, had I saw maybe some little art thing – like a small painting of the Basilica?
Yeah, I’d probably have bought that.
But I never saw anything along the walk to the Basilica.
Anyway, here’s a photo of it from outside the entrance and here’s a photo of some cool looking building I saw in the distance from this spot also.
Then I walked inside.
As I walked past the gate, I noticed how it was free to enter.
Second, during my entire time here, I never once saw another foreign tourist.
It was only religious Mexicans who appreciate the area for its religious value or Mexican tourists.
As I walked along, I saw some dude giving “blessings” by throwing water at people as you can see here.
I thought about getting “a blessing” but I wasn’t sure if he was charging for the service or not.
I wouldn’t pay someone to toss water at me but I guess it’d be maybe interesting somehow to someone.
Afterwards, I began taking more photos as you can see here of the general area.
While looking at the buildings, I did think to myself “it’d be nice to have a tour guide to this place.”
Because, at some touristy spots in Latin America, it’s not uncommon to see random dudes on the outside offering “tour guide services” on the cheap.
Hell, I’d have paid for it because, being honest, I had no idea what I was looking at.
They did have writings available to explain the various buildings and their importance as you can see in the photos above.
Still, a tour guide is something that this place needs.
That’d be interesting to have someone explain the history of the place and everything as I’m looking at it all.
Another thing that came to mind was how this place reminded me of some of the attractions in the Colombian capital of Bogota.
In particular, it reminded me of these two areas from Bogota as you can see in these photos I took long ago.
Now compare that to these photos of the Basilica here.
Not sure why but I almost had flashbacks in a way to when I was in Bogota briefly.
Anyway, I carried on.
Is the Museum Open?
Next, I followed some sign advertising a museum but it turned out to be closed.
Still, I found some cool stuff as you can see in these photos here.
In the last photo, it happened to be in some side room and I went down the steps to see what was down there.
Turned out to be just a parking lot.
When I walked back outside from that spot, I noticed some dude sitting down relaxing on some spot outside that area in the photos above.
And it hit me – this actually wouldn’t be a bad place to relax alone outside.
There weren’t any street hustlers on the inside and no homeless people begging for money either.
Meanwhile, you have spots to sit down and relax.
All the while, this place is only 5 minutes from my apartment and is free to enter.
This very well might be a place I’ll visit more often just to have a nice little open space to relax without being harassed.
Plus, it had plenty of cool views as we’ll get to next.
More Religious Buildings
To my surprise, this whole area is actually like triple the size that I was expecting.
I thought I’d be here for just 30 minutes but it ended up taking me 2 hours to get through it all.
Moving forward, I found more spots to check out as you can see in these photos here.
A few things to note before going on...
Like you can see in the photo of inside that one church spot, there was a family praying. Typical of what you'll see in this entire area.
Also, in the last two photos, I saw some sign talking about "the tree of the virgin."
I wasn't sure if the tree next to it was the "virgin tree" in question.
Probably not but I took a picture of it anyway.
That way we all know what a "tree of the virgin" is supposed to look like.
And here’s a cute little cat that was meowing a lot.
From there, I found a bunch of green spaces.
It was here also where I realized that this could be a good spot to relax in my free time while outside alone.
It just needs more benches to sit down on.
And maybe a hotdog stand guy on the side in this general area?
Would be perfect for people living here to just relax with a hotdog in front of the green scenery.
Anyway, I went up some steps as you can see here.
And here’s some cool little thing that I came across the way.
On the top of the steps was this building here and you can see the signs explaining it here.
In case anyone wants the religious life, call the number above!
At this point in the area, I could see Mexico City below me and quite a bit of distance.
Very much reminded me of Monserrate in Bogota as you can see here.
Though the views from Montserrate are a bit better but I did take some from this spot in the Basilica as you can see here.
OK, the view from Montserrate is better but it reminded me of my time in Bogota.
Anyway, I enjoyed the view quite a bit from up top as it really reminds you just how big this city really is.
It’s really cool to see how far the distance goes.
All the people who live in those buildings.
Their life stories.
Making up a city with much to say.
Well, I carried on downward back to the Basilica area to actually see what’s inside what I assume is the Basilica itself.
Inside the Basilica
So I walked into the building.
And here are photos that I saw while inside.
For some reason, a lot of people were taking photos of the last thing you see.
There’s a Mexican flag there with a religious painting and what appears to be a crown over it.
Also, I saw lots of people praying inside by that spot and also in various other spots of the area.
Anyway, I thought it wasn’t possible to enter the more interesting part of the building because the big door to it was closed momentarily by some gate.
However, once I was outside again, I saw it was open with people walking inside.
So I joined them.
A Religious Event
Now little did I know that I was actually joining some religious service.
I thought I’d just walk in, take some photos, appreciate the architecture and move on.
However, some dude brought me to a seat to sit down like he did with everyone else.
And, not wanting to be rude, I figured I’d sit down.
Soon enough, they closed some little gate behind me and there was activity way in the front.
Where, in the beginning, I think some dude was singing or I heard music anyway.
Having never been to any church service before, this was new for me.
I was never raised religious whatsoever despite, if I recall right, I think they did take my sister to church a lot more often for some reason.
I guess church is for girls?
Anyway, as I said, they started playing music quite quickly after I walked in.
The music sounded alright.
A bit boring actually.
I thought something like this bit here from Sam Kinison, who was a minister, would’ve been more entertaining.
Sam Kinison -- Highway to Hell
But it’s not my place to pray so I can’t say much here.
Just a suggestion.
Then some dude in yellow clothing stood in front talking about Jesus, Guadalupe and whatever other religious figures.
While I understood a good deal of it, there were parts of this dude’s speech that was not as understandable to me.
Unfortunately, I don’t know too much religious vocabulary (in either English or Spanish).
So I wasn’t able to catch everything the dude said.
On top of that, the dude had a peculiar accent that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
Initially, I thought “wait, is he Argentine?”
But I later concluded that his accent wasn’t “Argentine enough.”
Though there were a few moments initially that made me question that.
Anyway, the larger crowd that I was part of began interacting with his speech.
Where I would just mimic whatever other people were doing.
For example, the crowd would begin singing along to something and I’d try to repeat the words but not very convincingly I don’t think.
Unfortunately, I don’t know any religious songs in Spanish or English.
So I stopped trying to follow along with the song.
Also, religious folks have this thing they do with their hands where they touch their shoulders and forehead or something?
Some motion that I never understood.
I tried to be respectful and go along with that but not sure if my religious hand moving was spot on.
Through the service, we’d be told to stand up, get on our knees occasionally or sit back down.
There was A LOT of being told to stand up, sit down and get on the knees repeatedly.
To the point I began thinking "seriously? Get up again? Make up your mind, old man!"
There was one older lady in front of me who, for some reason, began crying.
And she eventually stayed on her knees for much of the service.
“Ouch” I thought.
I thought the floors were a bit hard and she, being a considerably much older woman, probably is hurting her knees down there.
But she was committed.
Her knees aren’t as important as our boy Jesus.
And, through the service, there were occasional moments where people made noise accidentally.
Like one dude whose phone went off.
And literally half the crowd turned around to look at him – some quite disapprovingly!
I made sure to join the crowd in doing so because I’m quite the conformist and I like to partake in making strangers uncomfortable.
“You bastard, how dare someone be calling you right now.”
Anyway, it’s moments like this that I do genuinely appreciate.
Not for the religious element but just to “observe around” so to speak.
There’s a part of living abroad that is nice whenever you are visiting non-touristy areas like small towns or villages that few ever visit.
Just to see what life is like there and meet new people.
To also attending normal events like these to see the activities that the locals engage in.
Like this religious service.
Just to be a silent observer.
Somewhere in the background.
Appreciate the moment and notice the details.
“You Cannot Leave! You are Stuck Here!”
At any rate, I eventually had enough hanging around there and felt a desire to leave.
But, not having been to church before and this being a touristy place in some respect, I had no idea if I could leave while the dude was talking way in the front.
So, looking behind me, I see the gate is still closed.
And I don’t see anyone else leaving in the building.
But I do see more people entering the building during the middle of this event.
So if people are allowed to walk in during the middle of it, I guess they can leave also?
I have no sense of what is appropriate in a church outside the obvious like not interrupting his speech to ask if anyone knows about our Lord and Savior Allah?
That wouldn’t be appropriate.
But I did contemplate if I could leave or not.
Then, thankfully, some older dude with a baby decided to walk to the back.
He left his baby behind though (in which he came back to sit down again soon enough).
But because he was able to leave momentarily, I assumed I could also?
Because, being honest, I was starting to get bored here.
I’ve seen it.
But maybe 10% or so of the speech wasn’t understandable to me, the church music was boring and I’m not religious.
So, making the assumption I could leave also, I got up when the dude finished talking (in which more music began playing) to walk back outside.
As I opened the gate, one dude in a suit asked me if “I need anything.”
And I said “salir.”
He looked offended.
And said to me that “I should stay for the service.”
Not wanting to be an ass, I figured I shouldn’t march on outside.
So back to the seat it was.
Soon enough, the father of the baby returned to his seat also.
In that moment, I thought to myself “maybe I should’ve said I want to use the bathroom?” and then ditch.
Anyway, I sat back down again as I said.
And I started wondering how long would this service go on for?
I remember the dude at the front of the building did tell me way earlier that access to this building was closed at 8 PM that day.
And it was 6:20 PM as I sat back down.
So now I’m slightly preoccupied with the idea that I might be trapped listening about Guadalupe for the next hour and a half.
All the while trying to mimic the religious behavior of the group so I don’t stand out as a dick for not following any procedure.
“Ok, Ok, so I touch my left shoulder first? Or the right one? My right? Then the forehead? Shit, how does this work?”
Anyway, they gave me mercy.
The event ended in about 30 minutes later closer to 6:50.
Once it was over, the men in suits instructed everyone to get in two lines to exit the building.
As we carried forward, a lot of them stopped the line to take photos of the front of the building as we walked towards it.
With the men in suits repeatedly telling them to “carry on, carry on.”
And then I was outside again.
Soon after, I left.
Here's some last minute photos I took outside.
Like I said, if you happen to live in this part of Mexico City like I do now and the Basilica is closeby, then it’s definitely worth a visit.
In fact, I very much see myself visiting this area maybe a few times a week just to chill on the little benches or wherever outside the main buildings.
Mostly because it’s a 5 minute walk from my house, there’s no street hustlers harassing you and there’s plenty of green spaces to appreciate.
Which is the second point.
If you appreciate green spaces and even a vantage point of the city, this spot has that for you.
For me, I appreciated both of the above much more than the buildings (inside or outside of them).
Simply because of 3 reasons:
- I have no understanding of the deeper history behind the buildings (something to learn, for sure).
- I’m not at all religious.
- Outside of rare exceptions (like the architecture in Athens or Rome), I generally am not impressed at all by architecture. It’s boring to me. I much more appreciate nature.
The last point being the most important one – I didn’t care at all that much about these buildings.
Though, as I said, it was cool how they reminded me of Bogota.
And it does seem like a cool spot to hang out if you happen to be in the area!
Having said all that, how much time do you need to visit this spot?
I’d say if you don’t care for religious buildings and just want to do a quick walk around, then an hour is plenty (maybe an extra 30 minutes on top of that if you see the museum).
If you get stuck in a religious service, then add an extra 40 or so minutes to your schedule.
Are you a religious person who wants to spend some time praying? Well, I don’t know how much time you need to pray but maybe 5 minutes is good?
In short, at least an hour but you could spend 3 hours here also at most.
And I think 3 hours is pushing it.
Finally, was it worth visiting?
It wasn’t my favorite or most impressionable spot of Mexico City.
I wouldn’t put it high on the list of things to see if you aren’t religious or don’t live around Lindavista area.
However, if you have plenty of time on your schedule, then it’s definitely a quick visit after checking out other cool spots of Mexico City first.
And that’s it really!
I enjoyed visiting it and will likely visit it again as I said.
Here’s also a good video of the Basilica itself to give you even a better viewing and understanding of it.
Got any thoughts yourself?
Drop them below in the comment section.
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Thanks for reading.