Catedral Metropolitana houses one of El Salvador’s most important pilgrimage sites, the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Join hundreds of thousands of Catholics from all around the world who come to the cathedral every year. Take a tour and see historic artworks.
The twin-towered Spanish colonial style building was inaugurated in 1999 and is the third version of the country’s national cathedral. The previous two were destroyed by earthquakes and fire. It occupies the site where the 16th-century Convent of Santo Domingo once stood.
As you walk through the main door, admire the huge altarpiece. This impressive artwork features eight oil paintings depicting the life of Jesus Christ. Above the altar is a large dome featuring a painting of heaven, which covers a surface of 21,528 square feet (2,000 square meters). Beneath the dome, find several alcoves containing statues of religious figures.
Visit the Chapel of the Virgin to see the 17th-century painting of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The image sits in a mahogany shrine in front of large stained glass windows. Go to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to admire the 8-foot (2.5-meter) high jeweled ornamental vessel housed inside an ornate wooden shrine. The base is decorated with carvings of angels.
Beneath the nave, find the tomb of Archbishop Óscar Romero. Romero was a revered human rights advocate and was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating a mass. Pope John Paul II paid his respects here during two visits in 1983 and 1996. Study the bronze monument that lies above the archbishop’s remains. The sculpted artwork shows the priest asleep and features figures of the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Catedral Metropolitana is open every day and admission is free. It is located on the north side of Plaza Barrios in the historic downtown area and is easy to reach by bus and taxi. If you are driving, find free parking in the surrounding streets. While you are in the plaza, visit the nearby Palacio Nacional.