Iglesia de San José, Another Historic Church in Medellín

Iglesia de San José
Iglesia de San José

Iglesia de San José is another notable and historic Roman Catholic church.

The church in La Candelaria (El Cento) is worth seeing while visiting other tourist sites in the area like Museo de Antioquia and Plaza Botero.

Two other notable churches in El Centro that are within about a six-block walk from Iglesia de San José are Iglesia de La Candelaria and Iglesia de la Veracruz.

Note that there is another historic church with the same name (Iglesia de San José) in the Parque Principal in El Poblado, which should not be confused with Iglesia de San José in El Centro.

The Central Nave inside Iglesia de San José
The Central Nave inside Iglesia de San José

History of the Church

In the vicinity where Iglesia de San José stands today was a chapel dedicated to San Lorenzo, which was built in 1720. The San Lorenzo chapel eventually became rundown and was demolished in 1847 along with another chapel nearby named San Francisco.

Iglesia de San José was ordered to be built by the Juan de la Cruz Gómez, the Bishop of Antioquia at the time, in honor of San José and was entrusted to the Jesuits.

Construction started shortly after the demolition of the San Lorenzo and San Francisco chapels. The images, ornaments, altars and furniture from the two destroyed chapels were to be used in the new Iglesia de San José.

However in 1850, General José Hilario López expelled all the Jesuits from the country, so only the walls and ceiling were completed by the Jesuits.

The church was completed shortly after under the care of a board of construction and the pastors of La Candelaria.

In 1884, Jesuits returned to Medellín from Ecuador. In 1902, the facade of the church was reconstructed by Jesuit architect Felix Pereira.

At the front of the left aisle inside Iglesia de San José
At the front of the left aisle inside Iglesia de San José

Inside the Church

The interior of Iglesia de San José is whitewashed with some brown and gold trim, and many beautiful pieces of art can also be found in the church.

The impressive main altar in the church is made of wood with gold trim and several pieces of art.

The church also has confessionals found along the right and left aisles.

The church has an organ on the second floor as well as stained glass windows for higher up windows.

The main alter in Iglesia de San José (Wikimedia by SajoR)
The main altar in Iglesia de San José (Wikimedia by SajoR)


How to Get There

Iglesia de San José is located along Avenida Oriental (Carrera 46) at Ayacucho. Outside the front of the church, you will typically find several vendors selling religious items.

The doors to the church have been open during the day each time I have walked by it, even when mass is not going on.

The easiest way to get to Iglesia de La Candelaria is to take the Medellín metro to the Parque Berrío station or the San Antonio station. The church is located about a six-block walk from either metro station.

Or you can ask any taxi driver in Medellín to take you to “Iglesia de San José en el Centro – Oriental con Ayacucho,” just about every taxi driver will know where it is.

One of the many art pieces in the church
One of the many art pieces in the church

Note to Readers

This is the fifth notable church in Medellín we have looked at in a new series on this website looking at the most famous churches in the city.

We previously looked at:

The first five churches we have looked at in Medellín have all been in El Centro, and all could be seen in a few hours time. It would also be possible to combine a tour of some of the notable churches in El Centro along with visits to Museo de Antioquia and Plaza Botero.

We plan to look at one more remarkable church in El Centro, Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. We also plan to look at several more notable and historic churches in Medellín, which can be found in other neighborhoods in the city.

We are covering the churches in Medellín in a new series on this website as we have found that several of the beautiful churches in the city are unfortunately missing from the travel guidebooks of Colombia.

Like the story? Take a second to support Medellin Living on Patreon!



  1. Thanks for continuing this church series about the beautiful and historic churches in Medellín. It is interesting to find out the history of each one. This church isn’t in any of the travel guidebooks I have seen, which have very poor coverage of the historic churches in the city.

  2. I love visiting churches and learning their history. They always tend to have amazing art and architecture and the older it is the more intriguing its history usually is, especially when the ground it was built on already had a history. The main altar in this one is really astonishing! Thanks!

  3. There is another church, Iglesia de San Ignacio, which for me is the second most beautiful church in the city after la candelaria. It is located on Plaza de San Ignacio just one block east of Iglesia de San Jose in el centro if you take calle Ayacucho. You can see the interior by clicking on the link below. It’s really beautiful both inside and out.

    • Hi Sergio,

      Thanks, I will add Iglesia de San Ignacio to the list of notable churches to look at in this church series.

  4. Inside this church you can find the painting called “The baptism of Christ” by Francisco Antonio Cano who is the same artist who painted Horizontes, probably the most representative painting in Antioquia’s history. I personally like Cano more than Botero and you can find Horizontes at the Museo de Antioquia.
    Also, it’s interesting to note that this church faces Ayacucho street instead of Avenida Oriental since when the church was built, Ayacucho was a more impotant street than the Oriental Avenue.