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Popular destinations VENEZUELA

Isla margarita


According to the Constitution, there is freedom of religion. Approximately 95% of the Venezuelan population is Roman Catholic. Despite this high percentage, only a small percentage of Venezuelans attend church regularly. There are seven archdioceses, 19 dioceses and four apostolic vicariates. In the past, the political power of the Venezuelan Catholic Church was of little importance compared to sister churches in other South American countries. Nowadays, the voice of the Catholic Church is becoming increasingly important at the local and national levels.

Approximately 2% of the population is Protestant, mainly members of Pentecostal churches and Seventh-day Adventists. There are also about 15,000 Jews and some Muslims. The veneration of local saints is remarkable. Part of the original isolated Indian population still adheres to natural religions. A special sect is that of the female deity María Lionza. It is a combination of pre-Columbian beliefs, African voodoo and Christian practices and works with magic, witchcraft and esoteric rites.

As in the rest of South America, there are many religious festivals on Isla Margarita. From the Friday to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, Carnival is celebrated exuberantly. From 3 May onwards, la Cruz de Mayo (the Cross of May) is celebrated. The cross is decorated with paper garlands, real flowers and palm branches. Organisations as well as individuals can take the initiative to put up the cross for both secular and devotional reasons.

Semana Santa is the Holy Week, preceding Easter. Another tradition is 'La quema de Judas', when the evil (the betrayal of Judas) is burned on a big woodpile. The resurrection of the good is also celebrated.

Typical for Venezuela are the 'Misas de Aguinaldos', masses during the week before Christmas, enlivened by polyphonic choirs. The most important holy place on the island is in El Valle del Espíritu Santo. There you will find the Santuario de la Virgen del Valle, the shrine erected here to protect the image of the patron saint of Isla Margarita and all of eastern Venezuela.


Pampatar - Iglesia Santísimo Cristo del Buen Viaje (1748). Church of the Holy Christ of the Good Journey.

La Asunción - Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (1570). This cathedral, the oldest church in Venezuela, is a rare example of Venezuelan colonial architecture. The ground plan is a rectangle in which the three naves are separated by a number of semi-arches, supported by cylindrical columns.

Santa Ana - Iglesia del Santa Ana. This is where, on 6 May 1816, Simón Bolívar signed the decree that temporarily ended the war and where he made the preparations to form the Third Republic.


Launspach, W. / Reishandboek Venezuela, Margarita

O’Bryan, L. / Venezuela


Verbeeck, I. / Isla Margarita, Puerto La Cruz & Cumaná
Van Reemst

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated March 2024
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