Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento

Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento, Buenos Aires

Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento

Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento
4.5
Plan your visit
The area
Neighborhood: Microcentro
How to get there
  • General San Martín • 4 min walk
  • Retiro • 6 min walk
Popular mentions

4.5
2,666 reviews
Excellent
1,802
Very good
751
Average
102
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7
Terrible
4

Besos43
West Orange, New Jersey215 contributions
Wonderful Cathedral
Feb 2020
The Cathedral is in Classical and NeoClassical Parisian Architecture. Was very interesting and beautiful. Worth a stop
Written June 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Tupelo010835
Denton, TX1,962 contributions
Memorible!
Jan 2020
Very, very much so. We always try to visit a couple of churches and cathedrals when we are in a new city. Glad we did this time. We found this to be a truly spectacular piece of art. No other way to put it. It is art.
Beautiful!!
Written March 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

carlaontrip
Buenos Aires, Argentina127 contributions
NICE
Mar 2020
Beautiful Capel to visit. You can enter mass, and there is a little place where you can buy some souvenirs.
Written March 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ashim M
Melbourne, Australia278 contributions
If you love Cathedrals - then this is a gem
Mar 2020
Stunning old Cathedral with an incredible history - don't they all???

Beautiful though. Well worth a visit with a guide.
Written March 10, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Vincent M
New Orleans, LA2,213 contributions
Spectacularly Beautiful!
Feb 2020
Early one evening, I noticed an interesting-looking church on a side street. I wandered over to see its facade, but a wedding was taking place, and the church was still open. The ceremony limited my ability to explore, but what a stunningly beautiful church: both overall, and in detail. (Note: I’m not Catholic, so if I say anything incorrect, my apologies in advance; I approach Basilica Santisimo Sacramento as you might approach a Sikh gurdwara or a Shinto jinja, strictly from a cultural and architectural perspective).

Creation: Doña Mercedes Castellanos de Anchorena, having spent years in France, and inspired by her favourite Parisian church (I suspect Sainte-Chapelle), wanted to build something similar in Buenos Aires. She covered 100% of the cost of this church: a very wealthy señora indeed! The church, based on a Parisian design, was consecrated in 1916 (a great year to be as far from France as you could get), and was promptly declared a minor basilica by the Pope. This church merits that honour. “Minor” is not pejorative; four ancient Roman churches are the only major basilicas: period. It doesn’t matter if Brunelleschi designed your dome, Giotto built your bell-tower, and Ghiberti did the doors: if you’re not one of those four churches, the best you can ever get is minor.

Facade: The basilica’s facade is tall, narrow, and hemmed in by surrounding buildings all around, so you’re forced to look up at it from close by, rather than across a plaza or other open space, where you could get a better perspective. The style is Beaux-Art, with a heavy emphasis on neoclassicism. The arrangement of decorative arches on the facade is clever: in some places, a single arch is visually “supported” by two pillars. In others, two arches side-by-side are “supported” by only three pillars, the central one doing double-duty. Or, try four arches supported by seven pillars: the two-arch/three-pillar design but with a large third arch supported by two pillars right beside the outer double-arch pillars. And then a fourth arch over the third one, supported by two more pillars bracketing the third arch’s. And finally, at ground level, we get a trio of real arches and pillars, one before each door into the church. The bottom three arches actually do the work of an arch, supporting weight; the others are purely decorative. And back at top centre, within one arch high above them all: a remarkable marble sculpture of two kneeling angels worshipping the host: a stern padre is holding up an elaborate golden monstrance with rays radiating out from the host in its centre. A monstrance is a decorative objet d’art which displays the sacred host: the wafer used for Holy Communion; a monstrance with rays projecting out of it, as you see on the church facade, is called a solar monstrance. Right! So walk into the church and stare straight ahead at the fabulously beautiful altar, and what do you see smack dab in the middle of it? A real golden solar monstrance, the spitting image of the one on the facade! All this is sublimely appropriate, since the church’s name is Santisimo Sacramento: “the most holy sacrament” aka Eucharist (the other six sacraments, from baptism to extreme unction, including the matrimony those Porteños were celebrating, are santo, but not santisimo; see Facade and Monstrance photos).

Interior: what you immediately notice is how light it is, thanks to all those windows (see Interior photo). That photo also gives a hint of the transept, off to the left. The nave is bright and cheerful; the aisles on either side of the nave are set off by pillars; (see Nave photo). The light beige ceiling above the nave is a rib vault (see Rib Vault photo). The elegant “second-story” galleries immediately above the aisles (called the triforium) are vaulted as well, and separated from the nave by an arcade with bright arches resting on shining black pillars. Above the triforium, the outside walls close in on the nave, so the stained glass windows at this topmost level (called the clerestory) get plenty of sunlight, another factor in the airy, bright nature of the interior. The clerestory windows continue to provide natural light throughout the nave, wrap around the transept, and then light up the ambulatory and apse (See Triforium and Clerestory photo).

The apse (the front of the church from the transept to the altar) is stunning: the stained glass is breathtaking; the altar is made of beautifully-sculpted marble of various colors, particularly white Carrera marble, the same stone that Michelangelo used for David, Moses, and the Medici Chapel. The apse also has beautiful frescos (see Apse photo). I had a telephoto lens, but I do wish I could have gotten closer. Unfortunately, the only circumstance where it’s proper to interrupt a wedding by running up to the altar, is if you’re the decent chap who really loves the bride, and you’ve just obtained proof that the groom who’s only after her fortune, is still legally married to a woman up in Bogota; I didn’t fit that description.

However, even way back at the stern of the SS Santisimo Sacramento, I could confirm the quality of the materials used, thanks to the side chapels (see Side Chapel photo) and the ornate craftsmanship on the wooden pulpit and confessionals, which were somewhat within line-of-sight (see Pulpit and Confessionals photos). Something as simple as the holy water font was elaborately carved and constructed from four—count ‘em—four different types of marble (see Font photo).

Saintology: A close inspection of the stained glass windows here may introduce you to quite a few saints you’ve never heard of before. Several were brand new to me, though they might be famed throughout both Spain and Latin America. For example, one window honorus St. Hermengild, an early 6th century Iberian Visigoth prince who rebelled against his father the king. He lost the war first, and his head second. Saints have associated sacred symbols (Patrick-shamrock, George-dragon, Augustine-tedious books) and Hermengild’s is a headsman’s axe: on the stained-glass window, there’s one axe in the main portrait of the saint, and another down below in a smaller vignette of his actual beheading (see Hermengild photo).

Pipes: The church’s pipe organ is a monster: French-built, with 4983 “sound tubes.” Thanks to the wedding, I got to hear the organ: it’s impressive. If you’re Catholic, I’d recommend going to Mass on some special occasion when they’re sure to be playing the organ, such as Saint Hermengild Day.

p.s. 1: One morbid reflection: you know, given what this church is made of, and when it was built, it struck me that the same Catholic Italian freighter crews that carried beautiful Carrera marble to Buenos Aires for this basilica, may have loaded up with deadly munitions to take back to Italy, for use against Catholic Austrians on the Isonzo Front. Argentina was wise to stay out of that cataclysm.

p.s. 2: After writing the above, I scanned other TA reviews. Apparently this church is a popular tour stop (I can see why). Some reviewers state that this is a cathedral, where the current Pope Francis presided, and where José de San Martin’s tomb is located. It’s a minor basilica, not a cathedral. Pope Francis might very well have had some connection with Santisima Sacramento at some point in his career, but once he became archbishop of Buenos Aires, his official seat would have been the Metropolitan Cathedral. José de San Martin’s tomb is in the Cathedral, not here, though it’s squirrelled away even there, for theological reasons. (Francisco Pizarro’s is proudly displayed in Lima’s cathedral, but Pizarro was never a Freemason.)
Written March 8, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Flavia L
Buenos Aires, Argentina33 contributions
Beutiful church
Feb 2020
It is the most beautiful church in the city with an amazing story. Important people get married there. This visit is a must....
Written March 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Dez
Sunshine Coast, Australia661 contributions
Beautiful church
Feb 2020 • Couples
Very beautiful church. When you enter there are beautiful statues and stained glass throughout the church. Make sure to come. Probably not suitable for families with screaming kids.
Written February 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Gottagocit
Tennessee1,464 contributions
Beautiful Basilica
Jan 2020
What a quiet peaceful and beautiful place in the middle on the chaos of the city. Wonderful carvings again glass windows are everywhere. There are several gorgeous chapels along the sides of the main hall. Definitely a must see when visiting Buenos Aires.
Written February 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ntee6603
Sarasota, FL175 contributions
So many beautiful pieces of art, carvings,sculptures, Carrara marbles and a grand organ
Jan 2020
Not to be missed on a visit to this beautiful city, Buenos Aires, this church represented the opulence and the wealth of the aristocrat-owner, Mercedes C. de Anchorena, who got her wish to be buried in the crypt. Her constant struggle with another wealthy lady, Ms Covina Kavanagh who missed becoming her daughter-in-law, was a subject of legend of missed opportunity and revenge,
Written February 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

perthguy6
Perth, Australia206 contributions
Changing of the Guard!
Jan 2020
As an avid traveller, if a Country has a changing of the guard I love to watch it and on the occasion of this stunning church I followed the Guards from the Presidential Pink Palace to the Tomb of San Martin which is inside the Church. I dont know of many guards that watch over a tomb in a church so I think that is quite unique. Beautiful church and lots to look at but try to time it for changing of the guard as well!
Written February 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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