The Church of Santa María Reina faced the unenviable task of claiming a dominant position next to the fabulous and giant Unidad Independencia. That’s just how most churches are planned and built. Here, practically overlooking the swimming pool of the Deportivo Independencia, the designers had room to spare. The resulting church is one of the most celebrated and beloved of 20th Century Modernist churches.
The church as was the work of architects Jaime Herrasti Dondé and Eduardo Jiménez Galindo. Parishioners officially dedicated the new church in 1970. Replete with the black volcanic rock that’s embelematic in the area, the church has open space on all four sides. The same stone makes up the thick sloping load-bearing walls. And these form backdrops for the extensive gardens and patios. Four lateral windows illuminate the interior. But it’s above the altar where clear glass windows look out onto a lush garden. Directly opposite, over the entrance, the enormous stained glass window still draws gasps.
Santa María Reina often draws comparisons with Mario Pani’s Church of Cristo Rey y Santa Mónica. But the building shares much with the best of the middle of the 20th century. Today, the parish runs an active outreach program so the church ends up being used nearly as much as a local cultural center.
The church is right between the colonias of Batan Sur and San Ramon on the Calle Pinos. It’s closed on Mondays.