Iglesia Capuchinos (Church of the Capuchins) captivated us on our first night in Cordoba Argentina. Bold and reaching up to the heavens, it is a masterpiece against a black sky. Staring at it in wonder, I didn’t realise that in less than 24 hours I would be on top of one of those towers.
By day, the Capuchinos Church was even more impressive. Pastel bricks, elaborate decor, and the huge statues seemed to welcome us.
Although we arrived near the end of the siesta (fabulous custom of an afternoon rest.), we could see a small group inside the locked gate. Their guide invited us into the group as he was about to lead them on a tour into the towers, out under the buttresses, and along gargoyle-protected rails.
Despite the tour being in Spanish, we never pass up opportunities like this. While Sarah is fluent in Spanish, I am barely conversational. Therefore, we believe all the information below is accurate, although some of our translated interpretation is a bit loose.
First, be inspired …
Courtyard and exterior of Iglesia Capuchinos
With locked gates behind us, our tour began in the courtyard, looking up at the massive church and discovering the symbolism of the intricate decor on its faces.
Our guide started at the bottom. Of the 70 pastel columns, 24 are smooth to represent strength and faith. Statues of both Moses and Jesus stand next to the main door of Iglesia Capuchinos.
In the next tier, we find Atlas on each column, holding up the building. Above that are the twelve apostles, followed by twelve windows, one for each of the apostles. Next are the four virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Continuing up, we see four windows for four of the archangels: Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, and Miguel, who are in charge of the earth’s four cardinal points.
The dramatically different towers are also symbolic: one representing man, the other god. The truncated tower reminds us of our mortality, while the 53-metre tall tower represents the souls that ascend to the heavens.
Iglesia Capuchinos nave
Next, we entered the building and found ourselves standing at the back of the nave. Its intricate details are reminiscent of older cathedrals, although this one was built in the 20th-century. Interestingly, each of the twelve ceiling panels depicts the stars in the sky on the first of each consecutive month in 1930, the year the artist painted it.
There are animals at the base of the various columns, which if I understood our guide correctly, represent hell. However, the animals higher on the columns have nicer meanings. There are elephants for power and strength, lions for protection, and ravens for good.
Outside beneath the buttresses
Our Capuchinos Church tour brought us up a flight of stairs to a triforium, then through a normally locked door to the catwalks outside along the rails. First, we passed the archangels and the statue of Jesus in the centre. Then, we walked under buttresses and could look back at one of the towers.
Still outside, we walked along a catwalk-type path that had a name we couldn’t translate. Around the corner, we found the gargoyles and a huge stained glass window. Each gargoyle had a different face, and all faced outward, protecting the church. As they are normally a feature of medieval cathedrals, I was delighted to see them here.
Climbing up the Iglesia Capuchinos tower
Next, after making a donation, our guide took us through another locked door, this one leading to three consecutive narrow spiral flights of stairs up into the tower.
The last flight of stairs had only a single narrow rail. Once at the top, we crouched through a small door and instantly knew it was worth the effort. Tall office buildings, apartments, and the main community centre (Paseo del Buen Pastor) dominate this modern section of town, but the highlight of our view was the other tower.
It seemed as though we stayed up here quite a long time. By this point in our tour, I think there were only seven of us remaining. Perhaps the donation scared off the others, but it wasn’t very much (about $4.50 USD). When our tour ended, the guide suggested one more area to explore.
A radiating chapel in a triforium behind the Capuchinos Church nave
Up another massive staircase, we found a beautiful golden radiating chapel above the main ambulatory.
Who are the Capuchins?
Capuchins are Franciscans. Inspired by St Francis of Assisi, they strive to serve the poor and preach the Gospel. They live a simple life of prayer, brotherhood, and ministry, actively engaging in the world. The order was first established in 1525 in Italy, and today there are over 11,000 members worldwide, making it one of the largest segments of the Catholic Church.
Read more about the Capuchin lifestyle from The Life of St Veronica Giuliani, Capuchin Nun or Saint Padre Pio: In the Footsteps of Saint Francis.
There is a famous Capuchin crypt in Rome.
What does this have to do with my coffee or those adorable Capuchin monkeys?
It turns out, both the names for my daily cappuccino latte and the adorable capuchin monkey are derived from the shade of brown used in the Capuchin cloak worn by the friars.
More on Iglesia de los Capuchinos Cordoba
Construction of this elaborately detailed neo-Gothic church began in 1926. Although Iglesia Capuchinos opened in 1933, the addition of its final tower was in 1980. More recently, a restoration project took place in 2016-2017.
Architect Augusto Ferrari designed and built the church using elements of both Gothic and Romanesque styles.
Touring Iglesia Capuchinos in English
Our tour was in Spanish.
If you are looking for an English-speaking tour in Cordoba that includes the Iglesia Capuchino, the only one we have found is a private tour with the option of going inside the Capuchin Church towers. It also visits many of Cordoba’s key sites. Check prices for a Private Cordoba City Tour
Practical information on visiting the Iglesia Capuchinos
- Iglesia Capuchinos stands at the corner of Obispo Oro and Buenos Aires Street in Cordoba Argentina.
- This section of town is New Cordoba.
- The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the original name of this Capuchin Church.
- For the most current information, you can follow the church’s Facebook page; however, it is in Spanish.
- This tour is just one of many interesting things to do in Cordoba, Argentina’s second-largest city by population, and one of its oldest. We visited as part of our nine-week South American adventure.
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Have you visited Iglesia Capuchinos in Cordoba Argentina?
Hi Rhonda – what an amazing church – thanks for taking the tour … and for showing us round. Wonderful looking place – cheers Hilary
Julie Kemp Pick
What spectacular photos of the exquisite architecture and sculptures! I love that this was a mother/daughter effort complete with Sarah’s translation expertise. I especially liked her lovely photo of you! Thanks for sharing another family adventure with us.
Ryan K Biddulph
Those elephant carvings are really something else. I note that attention to detail. Amazing!
I cannot thank you enough for sharing your wonderful photos! They’re simply gorgeous! I can almost imagine heaven being like this. If I had my choice for a vacation I would’ve picked here also.
Marvelous church Rhonda. I totally enjoyed this post better then the last one about you so sick. It stills bothers me thinking about you in those hospitals. UGH!
An absolute marvel – I suppose one could spend many days exploring this beautiful church.
Beautiful photos Rhonda love the architecture thanks for the tour 🙂
Have a tanfastical week 🙂
What a beautful church. I love visiting them when I travel. Church’s are so influential, look how beautiful they are all over the world.
Cristina - Memories of the Pacific
What a beautiful church! It’s like a modern take on old European cathedrals. I’ve never been to Argentina but I really hope to go some day.
Melissa M Sanchez
oh my gosh, I am beyond obsessed with this church. it is beyond beautiful. Time to go Back to spani
There are many beautiful churches in Mexico and South America, even in smaller towns. It shows how influential the church has been in their society. – Margy
Lydia C. Lee
That looks well worth it! How gorgeous!
What a beautiful looking church! Particularly at night! Your photos really capture your experience well.
wow these pictures are breath-taking! this would be amazing to see in person
Lisa | Handmade in Israel
What an impressive building! I love the animals on the columns. Which animals were on the base representing hell?
How gorgeous is everything! Looks like so much fun and history making.
Lyn aka The Travelling Lindfields
We have been to Cordoba, but didn’t tour the iglesia. Ironically the best tour we ever did was just outside Cordoba at Santa Catalina Estancia. My Spanish was even more awful then than it is now. David and I were the only two on the tour. It was old monastery and quite isolated, down a dirt road. The guide Marcello spoke no English. He did the tour mostly in sign language with dramatic theatrics – it was terrific fun. We went back a few years later and did the same tour with the same guide and had almost as much fun.
All of the tiny details and gorgeous artwork inside and outside is amazing! I would be taking so many pictures of everything.
Beautiful church. I would love to visit Argentina some day. Looks like a wonderful city.
The designs of the buildings are so well structured and magnificent. It’s really cool that you were able to get closeup and see the details. Very cool!
So interesting. I love the use of animals in the church. You’ve taken some beautiful pictures too.
The pictures are absolutely awesome. It is pretty obvious you had an awesome time with your trip. I am quite jealous actually.
Wow what stunning design and architecture. This history is so interesting too
oh my!!! This church is gorgeous!!! What an amazing piece of art, wow!!! You’re so lucky to check it out that close.
the church looks incredibly beautiful! I would so spend my time there and enjoyt it the fullest. churches are fab in architecture way
L. Diane Wolfe
Utterly gorgeous. You don’t realize its height until you see that view. And those staircases are really narrow.
What a beautiful church, inside and out! The architecture and the decor inside really sets this apart from the others. The view from the top is amazing.
I have visited so many churches around the world such Cologne Cathedral, Seville Cathedral and many more. However, Iglesia Capuchinos looks different and beautiful with it own way. For example, there are a number of colors mixed into the architectural building which made it quite unique I feel.
So those of you who were left till the end of the tour got to see the best last, I would’ve been impressed.
So beautiful. I would have enjoyed touring this church. Wow. You took some awesome photographs too.
Have a fabulous day, Rhonda. ♥