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Temple of San Hipolito
Attractions of Mexico City

Area: Historical Centre
Paseo de la Reforma on the corner with Hidalgo
Metro: Hidalgo

The Temple of San Hipólito, located on the crossroads of Paseo de la Reforma and Hidalgo avenues, is a site of great historic and cultural significance, and constitutes one of the most important centres for religious pilgrimage in Mexico City.

The temple was built on the site where the Spaniards suffered the greatest number of casualties registered during the Battle of the Sad Night, which took place on July 1st 1521 and in which the Aztecs inflicted one of the main military defeats on the Spanish troops to the point where they were on the verge of behing annihilated. The survivors fled through the Calzada de Tacuba (today Puente de Alvarado) and found refuge at the site known as the “Tree of the Sad Night” located 4 kms to the west of the Temple. After the Spanish took Tenochtitlan, a sanctuary was built upon the space that the Temple occupies today to commemorate the men who died in battle. In 1559 they started to build a larger temple as part of a complex which would also include a hospice for mental patients. The construction was concluded in the late 17th Century.     

The Temple of San Hipólito boasts two narrow towers on its main façade which have the peculiarity of being rotated 45° in respect to the rest of the building and are composed of three sections. The inferior section presents ornamentation based on geometric designs, while the middle section displays very light estipite columns in grey stone and the top section, again rotated 45°, is octagonal in shape and is profusely ornamented with floral motifs carved in stone. The central part of the main façade presents a more sober composition with the use of moldings, niches and entablatures. The building's plan is in the form of a Latin cross with a cupola on the crossing and a lateral façade finished in tezontle stone.   

Apart from the architectonic wealth of the sanctuary, this temple is known by the city's inhabitants as the Temple of San Judas Tadeo, due to the fact that the most revered image of this saint is located there. Saint Judas is very popular among Mexicans, who pray to him for help when they have financial problems or can't find a job. The main holiday is celebrated on October 28th, when the surrounding area remains closed due to the enormous amount of people who arrive. Nevertheless, a special mass is celebrated the 28 of each month, which also brings a large number of people into the Temple; sometimes one can recognize the faithful walking in the streets or riding the Underground because of the clothes they wear and the images they sometimes carry, like a wooden sculpture of the Saint covered in necklaces of different materials. Some people wear white and green tunics, representative colours of San Judas Tadeo, bringing a touch of festivity to the city and making it clear, in the middle of the city's busy life, that the merging of indigenous and Christian rites is still latent.






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