Iglesia de La Candelaria is reportedly the oldest church in Medellín with a history that goes back to 1649. The formal name of this church is Basílica Menor de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria) but the church is more popularly known as Iglesia de La Candelaria.
Iglesia de La Candelaria is worth seeing, as it’s the oldest church in Medellín. This colonial church located in El Centro could potentially be added to our recommended tourist itinerary for a day in Medellín while visiting the nearby Plaza Botero and Museo de Antioquia.
In addition, we included Iglesia de La Candelaria in our list of the top 14 churches in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley.
Note, the above is a photo of the central nave in Iglesia de La Candelaria during mass.
History of Iglesia de La Candelaria
Iglesia de La Candelaria is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary under the invocation of the Lady of Candelaria. This was an invocation of devotion of the Spanish and sailors who crossed the Atlantic.
The church is located in the La Candelaria (El Centro) neighborhood on Medellín. This neighborhood takes its name from the church. The church was the primary church of the Diocese of Medellín starting 1868 until the much larger Catedral Basílica Metropolitana opened.
Iglesia de La Candelaria was used by the first parish of the city of Medellín. It’s history traces back to 1649, when a wood church with a thatched roof was built on this location. In 1712, the church had to be rebuilt due to deteriation of the initial church.
But this second church on the site wasn’t of sufficient durability. So, it didn’t last very long. Most notably, it was torn down and the construction of the current masonry church building on the site started in 1768. And the church was inaugurated in 1776.
In 1826, the congregation of the church was transferred to the nearby Iglesia Veracruz while the roof of Iglesia de La Candelaria was repaired. And in 1868, the Dioceses of Medellín was inaugurated in Iglesia de La Candelaria. Also, in 1890, the two front towers of the church were added.
In 1997, the church was restored using the techniques and materials used at the time of its original construction over 240 years ago. And in 1998, Iglesia de La Candelaria was named a National Monument of Colombia.
Inside Iglesia de La Candelaria
Iglesia de La Candelaria is a colonial building in neoclassical style. It’s a rectangular building with three naves. Furthermore, its structure consists of stone walls that have been patched through the building’s long history.
Iglesia de La Candelaria’s interior is whitewashed with gold trim. Also, the main altar is white with gold trim. In addition, there are many pieces of religious artwork to be found in this church.
The church has six confessionals that are found along the right and left aisles in the church.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century there was reportedly an organ in the church that was supposedly built in Medellín, of which little is known. Apparently, this former organ in the church was sold in 1861.
The current organ in the church was donated by José María Berrienteos. It was bought from E.F. Walcker & Cie., in Ludwigsburg, Germany. The 7-ton organ reportedly arrived in Colombia by sea and travelled by boat up the Magdelana River and then by mule to Medellín. It reaching the city in 1850 and was installed in the church. The organ was reportedly repaired in 1978 by a German engineer.
Iglesia de La Candelaria is located right next to Parque Berrio in El Centro. Parque Berrio is popular meeting place of local residents of Medellín.
The history of this park is closely linked to Iglesia de La Candelaria. The Main Square, as it was called at first, is where parishioners gathered before and after the Eucharist.
From 1784 and 1892, the square was mostly a public market. In 1895, the statue of Pedro Justo Berrio, who was one of the leading political figures in the region in the nineteenth century, was inaugurated. The statue was created in Rome by Italian artist Giovanni Anderlini.
Below the statue are found symbols of a shield, cane and a sword, and the following inscription: “The incorruptible and modest citizen / Dr. Don Pedro Justo Berrío / (Law 155 of 1888)”
After the statue’s inauguration, the name of the square was changed to Parque Berrio.
How to Get to Iglesia de La Candelaria
Iglesia de La Candelaria is conveniently located next to the Parque Berrio metro station on Line A. The church is located on the other side of Parque Berrio from the metro station.
In addition, using taxis or Uber is an alternative way to get there. You can ask any taxi or Uber driver to take you to “Iglesia de La Candelaria en el Centro”. Every driver in the city will know where it is. And it is normally relatively easy to catch taxis nearby when you leave.
During the day, there will be many tourists in the area taking photos. But still take care to watch your valuables. There is normally a noticeable police presence, so it is relatively safe. However, keep in mind that street crime is common in El Centro, particularly after dark.
Address: Calle 49 # 50-85, El Centro
Phone: +57 4 231 4907
Hours: I haven’t seen a mass schedule posted in this church. But reportedly it normally has mass several times in the mornings until noon and then typically at 6 pm each day including holidays.
The Beautiful Churches in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
In the metropolitan Medellín metro area (Aburrá Valley), there are over 300 Roman Catholic churches. Most notably, there is a complete list of all the churches of the Archdiocese of Medellín.
We have looked at a total of 33 beautiful churches in the Medellín metro area and the Aburrá Valley in a series on this website. And 22 of the churches we have looked at in detail are in Medellín:
- Catedral Basílica Metropolitana – the main church of the Archdiocese of Medellín and the largest church in the city.
- Iglesia de La Candelaria – the oldest church in Medellín, which is also a National Monument of Colombia.
- Iglesia San Antonio and Plaza San Antonio – the church with the largest dome in Medellín located next to Plaza San Antonio with four Fernando Botero sculptures.
- Iglesia Jesús Nazareno – another of the most beautiful churches in Medellín.
- Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro – a beautiful Gothic-style church in Medellín.
- Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús – a neo-Gothic-style church located in Barrio Triste in Medellín.
- Iglesia de San José – a Boroque-style church located in El Centro, Medellín.
- Iglesia del Señor de las Misericordias – a neo-Gothic-style church located in the Manrique neighborhood of Medellín.
- Iglesia San José – a Romanesque-style church located next to Parque Poblado in El Poblado.
- Iglesia de la Veracruz – a colonial church with a history that goes back to 1682, which makes it one of the oldest churches in Medellín.
- Iglesia de San Ignacio – a beautiful church in El Centro with a Baroque-style exterior and colonial interior.
- Iglesia de Nuestra Señora – a Roman-style church located next to Parque Belén in Medellín.
- Iglesia el Calvario – a Romanesque-style church in the Aranjuez comuna in Medellín.
- Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Sufragio – a neo-Romanesque-style church in the Boston barrio in Medellín.
- Iglesia de San Benito – a neo-Romanesque-style church with a history that traces back to 1678, which make it one of the oldest churches in Medellín.
- Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores – a Neo-Byzantine-style church in the La América comuna in Medellín.
- Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Sagrado Corazón – a beautiful Neo-Gothic-style church in the Buenos Aires comuna in Medellín.
- Iglesia de Cristo Rey – a beautiful church in the Guayabal comuna of Medellín with many beautiful stained-glass windows.
- Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores – a beautiful Neoclassical-style church in the Robledo comuna of Medellín, which is also a National Monument of Colombia.
- Iglesia del Cementerio San Pedro – a beautiful church built in 1929 that has some of the most beautiful stained-glass windows found in the churches in Medellín.
- Iglesia de El Niño Jesús de Praga – a beautiful church in the Villa Hermosa comuna in Medellín.
- Iglesia San Joaquín – a beautiful church in the Laureles-Estadio comuna in Medellín that is reportedly the second largest church in Medellín.
Also, we have looked at the principal church in each of the other nine municipalities in the Aburrá Valley:
- Iglesia de Santa Gertrudis – a beautiful church in Envigado located next to Parque Envigado.
- Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Rosario – a church located in Bello that is arguably the most beautiful church in the Aburrá Valley
- Iglesia de Santa Ana – a very popular church in Sabaneta located next to Parque Sabaneta.
- Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario – a historic church in Itagüí near Medellín with a history that traces back to 1743.
- Nuestra Señora Chiquinquirá – a beautiful church in La Estrella with a Neo-Gothic-style.
- Catedral Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes – a Neoclassical-style church with a history that traces back to 1793 and is located in the Caldas municipality south of Medellín.
- Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción – a Baroque-style church with a history that traces back to 1715 and is located in the Copacabana municipality north of Medellín.
- Catedral de Nuestra Señora del Rosario – a Neo-Romanesque-style church located in the Girardota municipality northeast of Medellín.
- Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua – a Neo-Romanesque-style church located in the Barbosa municipality northeast of Medellín.
Also, we looked at two smaller colonial-style churches while looking in detail at two nearby larger churches:
- Hato Viejo Chapel – a colonial-style church in Bello built between 1772 and 1796. It’s also a National Monument of Colombia. We looked at Hato Viejo Chapel while covering Nuestra Señora del Rosario.
- Capilla de María Auxiliadora – a colonial-style church in Barbosa built between 1773 and 1776. We looked at Capilla de María Auxiliadora while covering Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua.
In addition, we looked at Las Lajas Sanctuary located in Ipiales, Colombia, which is considered the most beautiful church in Colombia. Also, it’s considered by many to be one of the most beautiful churches in the world.
The Bottom Line: Iglesia de La Candelaria
Iglesia de La Candelaria is one of the few churches found in 10 English language Colombia travel guidebooks that I have. It’s worth stopping to see this notable Roman Catholic church if you like old churches.
Several of the most notable and beautiful churches in Medellín are located in El Centro like this church. But we have also been looking at notable and beautiful churches in other neighborhoods in the Medellín metropolitan area.
Seems like, in my experience, that most of the travel guidebooks in English about Colombia are missing many of the best places in the cities and pueblos in Colombia.
Consequently, we have covered the beautiful churches in the Medellín metro area in a comprehensive series on this website. Most noteworthy, we did this since a majority of the beautiful and notable churches in the city are missing from the English-language travel guidebooks about Colombia.
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