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Baltimore Basilica

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by night. Photo © Basilica1. View all images in our Baltimore Basilica Photo Gallery.
Photo © Mark.
Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1821, Baltimore, Maryland Photo © Mark Barry.
Photo © Matthew Kuhnert.
Photo © Michael Burton Roark.
Photo © Big Mike.
Photo © Matthew Kuhnert.

Known as "America's First Cathedral," the Baltimore Basilica (in full: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) was the first Catholic cathedral built in the United States after the adoption of the Constitution. A Catholic cathedral in a prominently Protestant nation, it became a symbol of the nation's religious freedom. It was built in a Neoclassical style in 1806-1821 and underwent major restoration work in 2004-2006.


The Basilica of the Assumption was founded not long after the adoption of the United States Constitution (1788), in celebration of the Catholic Church's newfound religious freedom. The project was overseen by John Carroll (1735-1815), Archbishop of Baltimore and America’s first bishop. His cousin was Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The architect was British-born Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764-1820), who designed the United States Capitol for Thomas Jefferson and is called the "Father of American Architecture."

The cathedral of Baltimore went on to play a central role in the development of American Catholicism, hosting several important councils and developing an authoritative catechism. In 1937, Pope Pius XI raised the cathedral to the rank of a Minor Basilica.

In 1972, the Baltimore Basilica was declared a National Landmark and in 1993, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops designated the Cathedral a National Shrine. Over the last few decades, visitors to the Baltimore Basilica have included Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.

The basilica was closed from April 2004 to November 2006 for major repairs and renovations, which included opening the crypt, adding a museum, and providing full disabled access. It reopened with great fanfare, just in time to celebrate its 200th anniversary.

Quick Facts on the Baltimore Basilica

Site Information
Names:Baltimore Basilica; Basilica of the Assumption; Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Categories:Cathedrals; Shrines; Catholic Shrines
Faiths:Christianity; Catholic
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Coordinates:39.294404° N, 76.616163° W  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of the Baltimore Basilica

Below is a location map and aerial view of the Baltimore Basilica. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.


  1. The Baltimore Basilica - official website
  2. Minor Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - National Historic Landmarks Program

More Information

Article Info

Title:Baltimore Basilica
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:06/19/2009
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/usa/baltimore-basilica/usa/baltimore-basilica">Baltimore Basilica</a>