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San Gabriel Arcángel, Tacuba

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The Temple of San Gabriel Arcángel is just outside Metro Tacuba. It’s one of the City’s most famously dark and mysteriously beautiful old churches.

Once the main parish church for a region that included some 18 separate towns, among them San Bartolomé Naucalpan, San Lorenzo Tlaltenangom, and San Esteban Popotla, today it’s the lone cathedral representing a past that is almost entirely forgotten. It’s still the centerpiece of a Tacuba which once worked a rich agricultural area that stretched well into the mountains to the north and west of today’s church.

While construction concluded around 1584, the San Gabriel Temple building has gone through major renovations both inside and out. Pedro de Arrieta took part in one of these, although significant alterations also took place in 1755, in 1871, and finally in the mid-1970s. The records indicate that the church has had as many as 12 side-altars, among them, altars to the Annunciation (by Saint Gabriel), to the Virgin of Guadalupe, to Saint Peter, to Our Lady of Sorrows, and to St. Nicholas Tolentino, one of the saints longest venerated in the ancient town of Tacuba.

To the temple’s right, an atrium area later became the Juárez Garden, famous for dance competitions held in the kiosk, there. With the arrival of the metro in 1984, the area was almost completely wiped out. Today a significant preservation movement keeps it from succumbing to further urban encroachment. It’s just a few minutes walk to the famous Mercado Tacuba.

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