The Chapel of Christ (Capilla del Cristo) is a small, 18th-century sanctuary tucked away at the end of a pedestrian street in a corner of the old walled city of San Juan. Built to commemorate what believers say was a miracle, the chapel has become a place to pray and leave offerings, which decorate the walls.The Basics
The sanctuary was built in honor of a rider who lost control of his horse along Calle del Cristo during a fiesta. Plunging off the top of the stone wall onto the cliffs below, the rider was said to have miraculously survived. Over the years, faithful Puerto Ricans have flocked to the chapel to pray for miracle cures and leave milagros, tiny silver charms representing parts of the body, at its altar.
Today, the chapel is a well-known yet humble historical landmark. Its gold-and-silver altar can be seen through the glass doors of the old building, but most visitors have to settle for a view from outside, as the chapel is only open to the public once a week. Since it is located within Old San Juan, the historic colonial section of the city, there are numerous ways to visit the church, including on half-day sightseeing tours, walking tours, and Segway tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- You can visit the exterior of Capilla del Cristo at any time, but the interior is only open on Tuesday afternoons and religious holidays.
- Milagros such as silver legs, arms, and hearts decorate the chapel walls and represent the various ailing parts of the body that pilgrims hope to cure.
- The chapel is located next to Pigeon's Park, which is a popular attraction for families with small kids, but travelers who have an aversion to the birds should avoid it.
- You’ll find numerous shops selling local wares at bargain prices near the chapel.
How to Get There
Located on Calle del Cristo, just a short walk from San Juan Cathedral, Capilla del Cristo is easily accessible by foot from other Old San Juan attractions. Because of traffic congestion and the city’s narrow, one-way streets, travelers recommend walking to the chapel rather than arriving by taxi or bus. Old San Juan also offers free hop-on hop-off trams to major attractions.When to Get There
Although you can stop by Capilla del Cristo at any time, there is a locked iron gate at the entrance; the interior of the chapel is only open on Tuesday afternoons and religious holidays. The winter season, from December to early April, draws the most tourists to Puerto Rico, so expect bigger crowds then, especially around Christmas.San Juan Cathedral
San Juan Cathedral (La Santa Catedral San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico) is an operational church, hosting services throughout the week for both locals and visitors. You can also simply stop by to admire the stained glass windows and artifacts such as the tomb of Spanish conquistador Ponce de León and the mummy of St. Pius.