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Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo

Admire ecclesiastical relics on display in the heritage center to learn about this cathedral, which is California’s oldest stone building.

The Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo is a charming spiritual home dating back to 1794. As the oldest continually operating parish in California, it is considered among the state’s most important historic structures. Admire the Spanish-colonial style of the building, which plays an important role in the Latino community.

The elegant off-white façade, with its brown wooden portal and bell tower, blends Spanish-colonial styles with Moorish features. Gaze up at the carving of Our Lady of Guadalupe that decorates the niche. It is said to be the oldest non-indigenous sculpture in California.

Enter the intriguing church to see its ornate interior. Listen to Masses and sermons recited in English and Spanish to serve the city’s Catholic community. The nave has an airy feel, with light permeating through its many windows and illuminating oil paintings of the Stations of the Cross.

The parish offices inside the building contain the Heritage Center Museum, which has highlights including artistic portrayals of the church. Look for remnants of the Vizcaíno-Serra oak tree that stood in the area when Monterey was founded in the early 1600s. Take a guided tour and speak with docents to find out about the museum, the church and its grounds.

Surrounding the chapel is a garden containing a serene path that leads to the complex’s San Carlos School and the Rectory of San Carlos Cathedral. Follow the trail to the San Carlos Cemetery to see its range of headstones and sculptures in the midst of giant oak trees.

Note that Masses take place daily, including on weekends. The museum is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The church, which accepts donations, is also known by locals as the Royal Presidio Chapel.

The Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo is in the central part of Monterey. Ride a bus to a nearby stop or walk from other attractions in the downtown area. The street outside the church has many parking spaces. Visit nearby landmarks, such as the Dennis the Menace Park, Lake El Estero and Jacks Park.


Guide to Exploring around Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo


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Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa $233
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400 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA
     
    4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in the heart of Monterey, this luxury resort is within a 5-minute walk of Cannery Row and Monterey Bay. Monterey Bay Aquarium and Lovers Point are also within 2 mi (3 km).

    Hotel Abrego $122
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    Hotel Abrego

    755 Abrego Street, Monterey, CA
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in the heart of Monterey, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo, Monterey Bay, and Fisherman's Wharf. Cannery Row and Del Monte Beach are also within 2 mi (3 km).

      Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa $144
      Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa

      Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa

      1 Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey, CA
         
        4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in the heart of Monterey, this luxury resort is within a 15-minute walk of Lake El Estero and Monterey Bay. Monterey County Fairgrounds and Del Monte Beach are also within 1 mi (2 km).

        Hotel Pacific $134
        Hotel Pacific

        Hotel Pacific

        300 Pacific St, Monterey, CA
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Downtown Monterey, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Monterey Convention Center and Fisherman's Wharf. Cannery Row and Monterey Bay are also within 1 mi (2 km).

          Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa $109
          Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa

          Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa

          700 Munras Ave, Monterey, CA
             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated near the airport, this spa hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Monterey Convention Center, Dennis the Menace Park, and Fisherman's Wharf. Naval Postgraduate School and Steinbeck Plaza are also within 2 mi (3 km).

            Stargazer Inn and Suites $72
            Stargazer Inn and Suites

            Stargazer Inn and Suites

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              2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

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              Hilton Garden Inn Monterey $135
              Hilton Garden Inn Monterey

              Hilton Garden Inn Monterey

              1000 Aguajito Rd, Monterey, CA
                 
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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                The Monterey Hotel $103
                The Monterey Hotel

                The Monterey Hotel

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                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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