When seeing the tourist sites like Museo de Antioquia and Plaza Botero in El Centro in Medellín it is also worth stopping at the nearby Iglesia de la Veracruz (Church of the Veracruz) to see what is regarded as one of the oldest church in the city.
The colonial church dates back to 1682 when the first brick was laid. Captain Juan Cespedes Hines started the construction of the church, which was completed in 1712 with the help of European immigrants.
By 1791, the church was approaching ruin with a major threat of collapse, so it was demolished almost entirely with rebuilding of the church starting in December of that year.
The Spanish resident Don José Ruiz Peinado reportedly invested a large sum of money helping to rebuild the church. The church reopened in November 1803. The blessing of the present Church of the Veracruz took place on March 25, 1809.
The church has been in operation as a Roman Catholic church of worship since that time except for a portion of time around 1850 when it was closed for renovations.
Iglesia de la Veracruz was declared part of the cultural heritage of Colombia on March 12, 1982.
Inside the Church
The interior of the church is whitewashed and adorned with wooden carvings and splashes of gold. In 1976, the parish priest Celedonio Arismendi decorated the interior of the church with fine gold. Similar to other churches in Medellín, you will also find several pieces of artwork inside the church.
The main altar in the church was reportedly brought directly from Spain.
Iglesia de la Veracruz holds Catholic Mass six times a day on Monday to Saturday and four times on Sunday.
Note that the doors to the church normally open shortly before the scheduled Mass sessions, if you arrive at another time the doors may be closed and you won’t be able to see the inside of the church.
How to Get There
Iglesia de la Veracruz is located about a block south of Museo de Antioquia and Plaza Botero. The church is also located roughly 100 meters (1,076 feet) from Parque Berrio and the metro station.
An easy way to get to the church is to take the Medellín metro to the Parque Berrio station and then walk about a block and a half west along Calle 51 from the metro station.
Or you can ask any taxi driver in Medellín to take you to “Iglesia de la Veracruz en el Centro,” they all will know where it is.
The area in front of the church is relatively safe during the daylight as there are typically many police patrolling around the area with the popular Museo de Antioquia and Plaza Botero located nearby.
However it is not recommended to walk past the church along Calle 51 to Carrera 53 (Cundinamarca), which is the street running perpendicular located about half a block behind the church, as this is an area that, unfortunately, has a bad reputation for crime and street prostitution.
Thanks for covering the oldest church in Medellín. Considering how old it is, the church has been kept in good condition. As far as I know it is the only colonial church having been preserved in Medellín.
Since there’s a fill-in box for a website – I just put mine there – it’s just a website for documenting most of my art works over the years. Anyway…………Jeff, thanks for this article of the church. It gives me another location to take friends to when they are here. I’m just amazed everytime I go to the Botero Plaza, that it isn’t spiffed up more for tourists like other cities are. No cafe’s, handicrafts, ice-cream stores, only local paisa stuff. I probably should be happy because one day it’ll be too many tourists milling around!
That’s not the oldest church in Medellín as the current building dates back to 1809 while the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria’s current building, right at the Parque Berrío dates back to 1776.
Thanks, this has been corrected in the article.