Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles
- cnr Av 2 & Calle 16
Lonely Planet review for Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles
The most important site in Cartago – and the most venerated religious site in the country – this basilica exudes airy Byzantine grace, with fine stained-glass windows, hand-painted interiors and ornate side chapels featuring carved wood altars. Though the structure has changed many times since 1635, when it was first built, the relic that it protects remains unharmed inside.
La Negrita (the Black Virgin) is a small (less than 1m tall), probably indigenous, representation of the Virgin Mary, found on this spot on August 2, 1635 by a native woman. As the story goes, when she tried to take the statuette with her, it miraculously reappeared back where she’d found it. Twice. So the townspeople built a shrine around her. In 1824, she was declared Costa Rica’s patron Virgin. She now resides on a gold, jewel-studded platform at the main altar. Each August 2, on the anniversary of the statuette’s miraculous discovery, pilgrims from every corner of the country (and beyond) walk the 22km from San José to the basilica. Many of the penitent complete the last few hundred meters of the pilgrimage on their knees.