Mexico’s most-venerated religious figure is the subject of this monumental statue atop a hill on Puebla’s Northern Sierra region. Originally, the Tabacal neighborhood of Xicotepec de Juárez, also known as Villa Juárez, was home to a small church consecrated to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
In the late 2000s, however, a government and civic proposal lead to the conversion of this sleepy neighborhood into a religious tourism destination. Mexico’s “Pueblos Mágicos” (Magical Villages) program started in 2001 as a way to allocate federal funds to towns with touristic potential that could use a boost.
Construction on this 75-foot (23-meter) statue started in 2009 with money obtained through grassroots funding projects. It was inaugurated in 2011 after injections of funds by local and state governments. By 2012 it, along, with the town’s historical heritage, lush landscapes, and local gastronomy had helped Xicotepec become a “Magical Village.”
In the following years, the statue’s fame grew, and it started becoming an important pilgrimage site. The federal funding program ended in 2018, although by this point Xicotepec had become a religious tourism destination. That same year, a huge cross was built farther up the mountain from the Virgin, along with steps connecting the two, thus creating one of the world’s most recent Catholic pilgrimage sites.
Know Before You Go
The statue can be reached by foot or by car, although the drive up is notorious for its sharp turns. Xicotepec is known for its changing weather—rain can appear at a moment's notice and the temperature varies greatly during a single day, so pack accordingly and don't be surprised if the view is all fog when you reach the top, it could clear up in a few minutes after all.
The Virgin of Guadalupe is commemorated throughout Mexico every December 12. Expect fireworks, music, and serious crowding on and around the date.