The Church in the Desert – San Luis Potosí, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

The Church in the Desert

Past the hills and beyond the graveyard, this church feels extremely out of place. 


Imagine this: You are a Catholic priest in the 1600s, traveling through the desert, and one day come across a small river. What would you do? If you said, “Build a church in the middle of nowhere,” your name must be Juan Barragán Cano!

Barragán built the first temple in 1635 and consecrated it to John the Baptist because of its proximity to the river. The church that stands at this site today, though, was built around a hundred years later. According to inscriptions in the bricks that make up the church, construction began in 1735 and was completed in 1755. The new church is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

This is a tandem destination, you can visit both the church and the river behind it, and both of them provide hidden gems to their visitors. The church has some amazing, almost lunar, backdrops, with almost no civilization on sight.

The temple has been victim to art thieves and even has had some murals disappear, and is visited by people that believe that some of the figures in the golden altarpiece are miraculous. The altarpiece by itself is a sight to see!

The river, on the other side, provides a calm and fresh place to rest, and if you follow it up to the back of the church, you can see the arches that hold the structure together.

Know Before You Go

On Sundays there is a lot more activity, if you want to have a calm visit, come on the weekdays, if you want to see the life around the church, come on Sunday. And always come accompanied.

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