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Exterior view of the modern Basilica.

The name Basilica of Guadalupe (also Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Spanish) may refer to one of the two churches built on top of Tepeyac hill, north of Mexico City. The site is nearby the place where it is said Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in front of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. This site is also known as La Villa de Guadalupe or, in a more popular sense, simply La Villa.

The new Basilica houses the original tilma (or apron) of Juan Diego that shows the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Thus it is an important pilgrimage site and is visited by several million people every year, especially around December 12, Our Lady of Guadalupe's Feast day.

The Basilica is part of the Historic Centre of Mexico City, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.

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Old basilica

Exterior view of the old Basilica.

Officially known as the "Templo Expiatorio a Cristo Rey," the construction of the old basilica began in 1531 and was not finished until 1709. It is characterized by its doric interior and marble statues of Juan Diego and Fray Juan de Zumárraga. The church was granted basilica status by Pope Pius X in 1904.

The apron of Juan Diego was housed in this church from 1709 to 1974. In 1921 a bomb planted in a flower vase near the altar by a anticlerical activist exploded causing great damage to the interior of the building. The apron survived the incident largely undamaged.

The old basilica was sinking as a result of the weakness of the ground, as the city was built on a former lake. As a consequence a new, more spacious, basilica was built. The old one was closed for many years and repairs have recently finished. It is now again open to the public and perpetual adoration is held there. It is a very important place for Mexico City.

Modern basilica

Interior view of the modern Basilica during Mass.

The modern basilica was built between 1974 and 1976 by the Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez who was also the architect of the Estadio Azteca (Spanish for "Aztec Stadium"). It is a circular building constructed in such a way as to allow maximum visibility for the image to those inside. The structure is supported by 350 pylons that prevent the basilica from sinking with the rest of the ground...

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The Basilica is considered as the second most important sanctuary of Catholicism (this based upon the number of pilgrims it hosts per year) just after the Vatican City.

The Basilica has sitting space for 10,000 people inside the premises. However, temporary seats are often placed in the atrium that allow up to 40,000 people to take part of the Mass and other ritual celebrations. There are nine chapels in the ground level each able to seat about 200 people.

Atrium controversy

On November 30, 2006, Basilica authorities announced plans to locate a Domino's Pizza franchise in the atrium. This would require the removal of about 150 merchants who sell traditional, local food there. Authorities of the Gustavo A. Madero borough denied the request for their removal, arguing that the sellers already have legal permits to work there. The Domino's franchise is awaiting approval from both the Basilica and the local government to begin operations. If the venture proceeds the Basilica would receive nearly a million pesos profit. [1]

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References

Coordinates: 19°29′02″N 99°07′01″W / 19.484°N 99.117°W / 19.484; -99.117

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