Iglesia de San Francisco - History and Facts | History Hit

Iglesia de San Francisco

Bogota, Colombia

Image Credit: Dario Diament / Shutterstock

About Iglesia de San Francisco

The Iglesia de San Francisco (Church of Saint Francis) is the main cathedral in Bogota, Colombia. The current building dates to the 18th century, but previous cathedrals stood on the same spot since the arrival of the conquistadors in 1557.

History of Iglesia de San Francisco

The first church was built on this spot by Franciscan friars in the 16th century, and the church’s magnificent Baroque altarpiece was added in 1623: this is still on display today and is considered one of the church’s highlights. It depicts God as the Eternal Father, complete with the apostles and a variety of saints, and is covered in gold lead (appropriately, the church is almost opposite Museo del Oro, the gold museum).

The foundations and structure of the building were severely damaged by a major earthquake in 1785, and were subsequently rebuilt shortly afterwards, although some relatively major alterations were undertaken to the layout and structure of the building, The whole complex spanned several blocks, and included cloisters and a convent.

When Bogota had major civic improvements undertaken in the early 20th century, the cloisters were removed to make way for the Palacio de San Francisco. More recently, the exterior has been stripped of its original white paint. The only original surviving parts of the 18th century church today are the main façade, tower and presbytery.

Iglesia de San Francisco today

The church remains an atmospheric Baroque masterpiece, and the altarpiece and side chapels are of particular note. The site remains a popular place of pilgrimage in for Catholics across Colombia, which adds reverence to the atmosphere.

Getting to Iglesia de San Francisco

The church is located just off Avenida Jiminez, and is extremely close to the Museo del Oro TransMilenio stop. It is easily walkable from other main sites in Bogota’s La Candelaria district.