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Mexico – Franciscan Missions


Religion has had an important impact on Mexican culture. In order to impose Christianity in ancestral Mexico, implementing Franciscan missions was necessary. Located at Sierra gorda, in the state of Querétaro, the five missions are majestic and magical. This tour will take you around these missions as well as to the Convent of Tepotzotlan, with its incredible baroque art, and to the ruins of Tula and its atlantes or stone giants.




Reception at the airport, assistance and private transport to hotel.


DAY 02: RELIGIOUS TEMPLES OF MEXICO CITY (some may be closed due to maintenance)

City tour around the historic center to visit modern streets and some buildings, like the Palace of Belle Arts, until we reach the Metropolitan Cathedral. This cathedral is the most important monument inherited from the New Spain, build on top of the Major Temple of Tenochtitlan. The Metropolitan Cathedral is the oldest, biggest and most important in Latin America. With its naves, its organ and its tower, it is the most amazing church of Mexico.

Santo Domingo square and Temple of Santo Domingo: This square is located on top of the house of the Azteca King Cuauhtemoc. During the repartition of the city by the Spaniards, this area was free for construction, as the Dominicans found it. The Dominicans build the solar located at the north, where the Temple of Santo Domingo stands.

Because the majority of the buildings were reconstructed in the XVIII century due to flood problems, there is a great harmony in the Baroque Novo-Hispanic style. The buildings that surround this square are: the Temple of Santo Domingo, the Palace of the Holy Inquisition, the old Building of Customs, the building Los Portales and the mansions of Diego Pedraza and Juan Jaramillo.

The Palace of the Holy Inquisition: Another example of the important buildings surrounding the Santo Domingo square, this palace was built for the tribunal of the Holy Inquisition. Nowadays, it is the Museum of Medicine.

The Church of San Francisco: Before this temple was built, this location was occupied by the zoo of the Azteca Emperor Moctezuma. It was given to the religious court by the conqueror Hernán Cortés. The construction started in 1525 simultaneously with the chapel San Jose de los Naturales. As the years went by, it was occupied by the Order of the Minor Monks, now known as San Francisco.

The Temple of the Profess: Before this temple was built, this location was occupied by the zoo of the Azteca Emperor Moctezuma. It was given to the religious court by the conqueror Hernán Cortés. The construction started in 1525 simultaneously with the chapel San Jose de los Naturales, where the monk Pedro de Gante (one of the preachers who arrive to New Spain in 1523, a year before the 12 Franciscans arrived) built the School of Arts and Services for the natives.

The Temple of San Hipólito: A glorious date in the life of the great Aztecan capital is the birth of the Temple of Hipolita y Casiano. Some historians claim: “Such was the cruelty of the Aztecas towards the Spaniards on July 1st 1520, known as the “Sad Night”, that, after the city was occupied, they decided to build a shrine dedicated to the martyrs of that epic battle.” The construction of the church started in 1599 and ended in the XVII century, next to the well where the most bloody battles were held, starting at Tacuba and ending at the current Square of the Constitution.

Transport to the Basilica of Guadalupe: The most important religious center of Mexico, this sanctuary is the most visited in the world. The culture and customs of the Mexican people can be appreciated. The Villa of Guadalupe is very important for the Mexicans because this temple holds the image of the Virgin Guadalupe, the patron saint of the Americas and a symbol of the Mexican crossbreeding. Finally, we return to the hotel.

Included meals: Breakfast.



Today, we will travel by the Avenida de los Insurgentes (avenue), considered the longest of America, until we reach the bullring, the largest of America. We will continue to the theatre Los Insurgentes, until we reach the neighborhood of Coyoacan. We will then go to Xochimilco, known as the “city of the flowers”, to enjoy the most colorful place of Mexico. When we arrive to Xochimilco, we will board a traditional “trajinera” (boat) to sail by the most important channels, while some craftsmen offer us their handicrafts as well as mariachi music. We will have a Mexican lunch (included), which consists of tortillas (thin corn Mexican pancake), guacamole, and barbecue, accompanied by a beverage (not included). Finally, we will visit the Azteca stadium, where two world football (soccer) championship finals have been played.

We recommend to previously book a reservation for the national folkloric ballet or a dinner at the Bellini restaurant, located at the 50th floor of the World Trade Center. Visiting Garibaldi to enjoy music and Mexican folklore is another option.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch.



Today we will go to Sierra Gorda, where we will visit 5 temples, after a 4 hr trip by highway.

The Five Franciscan Missions

The Baroque period, which developed during the Renaissance, was an artistic style adopted by the churches to spread their ideas in the XVII and XVIII. This style was taken to the colonies, where the opulent and detailed style was likened by the natives, who came from an ancient visual tradition. The front of the five Franciscan missions exploited the baroque resources to symbolize different themes of the Christian faith. These facades, preceded by atriums, worked as an instrument of evangelization.

Santiago de Jalpan

Built during 1751 and 1758, this mission was directed by Junipero Serra. It was the first of the five missions, and was dedicated to the apostle Santiago, saint of the soldiers, to defend faith in the land that was beginning to be evangelized. The facade has a saffron color and many flowers. The niche, once occupied by the image of the apostle Santiago, now has a clock, placed in 1898 by the General Rafael Olvera, more famous for this aesthetic crime than for his military achievements.

Included meals: Breakfast.



San Miguel Conca: Although the construction of this mission started in 1754, it was the first to be finished. This mission is perhaps the most racially mixed, because its ornaments of big flowers and the rough sculptures clearly show the natives’ artistic style. Two details typical of the Latin American baroque temples stand out: the figures of the Sun and the Moon, which represent the duality of the universe and the syncretism between Spanish and native cultures; the image of the Holy Trinity also stands out.

San Francisco del Valle de Tilaco: Dedicated to Francis of Assisi, it was constructed between 1754 and 1762 by the monk Juan Crespi. This is the smallest and simplest of the five missions. On its faced one can appreciate a garden of angels removing the curtain for the light to come into the church. It represents the profession of a pure and ingenuous faith. Among the pompous style of the flowers and vine leafs, four smiling sirens stand out.

Nuestra Señora de la Luz de Tancoyol: Attributed to the monk Juan Ramos de Lora, this mission was constructed between 1761 and 1767. Its façade is the most iconographic, due to the traditional details of the European constructions accompanied by native elements, like the jaguar and persons with Olmeca traits. The front holds many saints gathered up around the Virgin, on top of columns with calcareous vegetation, reason why it is considered a symbol of divine mercy.

Included meals: Breakfast.



Santa María de las Aguas de Landa: dedicated to the Purist Conception, this temple is perhaps the most ornamented of all five. It was constructed between 1761 and 1764 by the monk Miguel de la Campa. At the different levels of the front many personages of the City of God are congregated: Christ, the archangels, apostles, martyrs, nuns, and writers. Outstanding at the center of the peak is the archangel Michael, victorious of the demon. The mission of Landa represents the end of the spiritual conquest of Sierra Gorda.

Fray Junipero Serra: born in Mallorca, Spain, in 1713, this monk arrived at Jalpan in XVIII with the assignment of evangelizing the natives. Junipero stayed nine years in this region, directing the construction of missions and teaching the different labours of the sedentary life, like sowing, stockbreeding, and carpentry, among others. In 1769 he was sent to evangelize California, where he founded nine missions. Junipero died in 1784 and was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1988.

Finally, we will go to the hotel in Mexico, have lunch and depart towards Tepotzotlan.

Included meals: breakfast.



Today we will go to visit the National Museum of the Viceroyalty, which used to be the Jesuit School of Francisco Javier, which holds the most important jewel of the baroque-colonial architecture. The front is carved in green quarry and the wonderful altarpieces are carved in wood with a 24k gold cover. The different rooms will delight you with 300 years of art: goldsmithing, paintings, wood-carving and popular religious art. The church of Saint Francisco Javier is considered the most important jewel of baroque art in Mexico. Lunch included. Afterwards, we will go to Tula, the most important archeological site of the Tolteca culture. We will find the famous “Atlantes”, giant statues considered an archeological enigma. Finally, we will return to Mexico.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch.



Queretaro, once the first capital (before Mexico city) will allow us to enjoy its beauty, like the aqueduct from colonial times. We will then go to Mexico, stopping at Tepotzotlan for a delicious lunch (included). We will also visit the temple, now the National Viceregal Museum, which used to be the Jesuit School of Francisco Javier. We will see the biggest jewelry of the baroque-colonial architecture, the splendid façade carved in green quarry and its incredible altarpieces carved in stone and covered by 24k gold. Finally, we will return to the hotel.

Included meals: Breakfast.



Transport to the airport. Other Mexican sites can be visited.





  • Transport in deluxe touristic vehicles
  • Guide with credentials of the Ministry of Tourism
  • Tickets to the sites to be visited
  • Meals specified in the program
  • Breakfasts include juice, coffee or tea
  • When included, lunches and dinners without beverages
  • All taxes