Admire the grand architecture of this historic cathedral then spot European artwork, enjoy religious festivals and watch unusual spiritual ceremonies.
Visit the Catedral de la Virgen de Candelaria, the Copacabana Cathedral, to see a marvelous early 17th-century building and its interesting collection of European art. Take the opportunity to watch unusual religious ceremonies and to be part of colorful Catholic festivals.
Stand in the heart of the cathedral’s walled courtyard and marvel at the whitewashed Moorish-style architecture. Note the use of columns, domes and decorative ceramic tiles on the cathedral’s façade and chapels, which stand in each corner of the courtyard. Check out the sculptures of religious figures and the intricate carvings adorning the doors.
Step inside to see a lavish altarpiece dominated by a statue of the town’s patron saint, the Virgin of Candelaria, also called the Virgin of Copacabana. Pilgrims come from afar to pay homage to the statue, which first appeared in the 1580s and reputedly brings good luck. A gold statue above the Virgin and a silver ship at the base of the altar represent the sun and moon.
Go to the cathedral’s small Museo de la Catedral to see European and religious paintings as well as other curious art. These include a collection of origami cranes offered by a Japanese woman whose wish was to give birth to a gifted child.
Don’t miss the Bendicion de Movilidades (Car Blessing), when car owners decorate their cars with flowers and ribbons and drive to the cathedral to receive a blessing of reliability from priests. Visit on February 2 for the Fiesta de la Virgen de Candelaria. Enjoy traditional music and dance performances and sample local delicacies. On Good Friday, watch the candlelit procession of thousands of pilgrims from the whole region, who slowly walk from the cathedral to the summit of Cerro Calvario. It is an homage to the suffering of Jesus. At the top they ask the Virgin for forgiveness and good fortune.
Copacabana Cathedral dominates the Plaza 2 de Febrero, in Copacabana’s town center. It’s a short 10-minute walk from the Copacabana Beach and port. The cathedral and museum are open daily and admission is free.