Church of San Francisco
Take a break from the bustle of downtown Bogotá’s to appreciate the serenity and architectural beauty of Iglesia de San Francisco (Church of San Francisco). Admire the church’s grand golden altarpiece and a vast collection of ornate carvings and statues. Established by Franciscan monks during the 16th century, this picturesque colonial church is one of the oldest surviving churches in the city.
It may appear unassuming from the outside, but the church’s interior is an impressive sight. The dominant feature is the elaborate 17th-century gilded altarpiece. It appears to wrap around every corner of the church’s interior like a golden amphitheater. Sit in the pews and bathe in the warm glow from the altarpiece while enjoying the tranquil atmosphere.
Observe the green and gold Mudéjar decoration that adorns the church’s ceiling. Check out the collection of expertly-carved wood panels depicting religious scenes such as the baptism of Christ. Look also for the statue of Jesus Christ, remarkable for its life-like hair. Legend states that the statue miraculously grew hair, and that it continues to grow naturally to this day.
The church is home to a set of frescos by notable artists. They include works by Colombian artists Antonio Acero de la Cruz and Gaspar de Figueroa in addition to pieces by Spanish artist Francisco de Zubarán.
Located north of the La Candelaria neighborhood, the Church of San Francisco is about a 10-minute walk from Plaza de Bolívar. Public buses and the subway provide easy access to the church. Combine your visit with a tour of the Gold Museum, where you can discover a vast collection of pre-Hispanic gold artifacts. Other city attractions within walking distance include the Botero Museum and Casa de la Moneda.
The church is open to visitors daily, from early morning until late in the evening. Admission is free. Photography is prohibited inside the church because it is still in use as a place of worship. Masses are held hourly, seven times a day, except for Sundays, when there are nine.