<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >The Church of Jesus (The Third Order)</span>

The Church of Jesus (The Third Order)

29 february 2024
4 min. de lectura

The Church of Jesus (also known as the Church of the Third Order) is considered to be one of the most beautiful churches in Yucatán. Are you intrigued? Keep reading and find out why. 


Where is the Church of Jesus?

Situated in a picturesque setting between Parque Hidalgo and Parque de La Madre, its perfect proportions, elegant towers, and decorative interiors are sure to exceed your expectations. It is smaller and less crowded than the main square Cathedral only one block away, but it is rich with history and stands as one of the oldest buildings in Mérida.  


Iglesia El Jesús by Monica StarlingBuilt in 1618 by Jesuit priests from Spain, the church originally served as the parish church of a Jesuit university, which now accommodates the offices of the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán. After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767 and the subsequent closure of the university, the Franciscans of the Third Order took charge, giving the structure its present name.


Some buildings associated with the church were eventually demolished, making way for the construction of the Peon Contreras Theater in 1900. In 1917, the building assumed the role of the state legislative headquarters and then returned to its religious function in 1920.   


Sanctuary of art, architecture, and history.

The main exterior of the building features a central structure flanked by two lateral towers, displaying Baroque architectural elements infused with indigenous influences evident in the stone finishes. The church is built with mampostería – irregularly shaped smaller stones and limestone blocks are joined together with mortar. Traces of a square pattern on the exposed stone hint at the original stucco finish. The well-maintained state of the church structure enables visitors to appreciate the intricate details that date back to the 17th century. On the outside, on the Calle 59 wall, keep an eye out for an ancient Maya carving on the stone, a reminder of the building’s original purpose.  


Iglesia El Jesús Arquitectura by Monica StarlingThe grand wooden entrance door is framed by hand-sculpted stone moldings and two stone columns that are adorned with intricate floral carvings. A stained glass window is positioned above the door, topped by a cross on a carved stone base. All the entrances in the main structure of the church feature original wooden doors with ironwork inserts. Surrounding these entrances are moldings of hand-carved stone, accompanied by windows featuring niches that reveal the thickness of the walls. The windows retain their original stained glass designs.  


Stepping inside feels like entering another world, an escape from modern life. The style is ornate and well-preserved. The walls are decorated with frescoes painted in gold and pastel colors, and large murals are depicting religious themes and biblical images. This colorful richness extends from the middle part of the walls to the vaults, painted with various motifs that run along them, distinguishing between the upper and lower areas of the church enclosure.


 Iglesia El Jesús Interior by Monica Starling.Built on a plan of a cross, the church is a single-aisle edifice with two side altars that have remained unchanged since their construction. As you move towards the end altarpiece, the soaring architecture will give you a sense of expanding perspectives. The majestic vaulted ceilings and intricate details are truly awe-inspiring. A semi-spherical dome with a circular drum features small stained-glass windows that allow natural light to illuminate the space. The main altarpiece, inaugurated in the mid-twentieth century, features a wooden monument with four columns framing the image of Christ. The upper two pedestals feature the Virgin Mary and St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order.   


Whether you’re looking for beautiful architecture, a glimpse into history, or just some peace and quiet, The Church of Jesus (Third Order) is a great option. Visiting it makes for an ideal side-trip, as the church is quick to explore and conveniently located near several other downtown destinations. If you're driving, there are two public parking lots on Calle 59 within a short walking distance. If you´re walking, the surroundings offer an experience to savor with pastel-hued colonial buildings, majestic trees, lively vendors, and enchanting parks. It is important to note that the doors are only open during the early morning and late evening hours.   


Calle 60 x 57 y 59, Centro, Mérida

Cel. 999 924 9712

FB: Rectoría El Jesús Tercera Orden

Mon. - Fri. 6 - 8 am, 6 - 8 pm 

Sat. 6 - 8 am

Sun. 6 - 11 am, 6 - 8 pm  



Photography by Monica Starling for use in Yucatán Today.

Monica Starling

Author: Monica Starling

Writer, architect and mom, living in the Yucatán since 2007.

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