You will find a small church called the Alto Vista Chapel in a neighborhood named Alto Vista, located in Noord. Some people refer to it as “Our Lady of Alto Vista.” It is a small but colorful pilgrim’s church. The Alto Vista Chapel is a popular sightseeing spot because of its history and size.
The Alto Vista Chapel is located about 5 miles south-east of the California Lighthouse. To the north, you will find the Tierra del Sol Golf Course and the California Sand Dunes. The location of the Alto Vista Chapel serves very well as a reference point should you go hiking or mountain biking in the neighborhood. Also, you can take some beautiful pictures of the breathtaking surroundings at this location.
The Peace Labyrinth
Next to the Alto Vista Chapel, you’ll find the Peace Labyrinth.
Modern “pilgrims” visit the Peace Labyrinth to enhance prayer, contemplation, meditation, and/or personal growth. The labyrinth walk is popular among many people given its simplicity and the ability to approach the labyrinth’s paths on one’s terms: there is no right or wrong way to walk it.
The Alto Vista Chapel is open daily from 5 PM to 7 PM. The chapel has a 35 minute mass on Tuesdays. Everyone is welcome to visit for free (no tickets needed), but donations are always welcome!
The Alto Vista Chapel originates from 1750. The Spanish built it with the help of the Caquetio people, the indigenous of the island who were forced to work as slaves for the Spanish. A missionary from Venezuela named Domingo Silvestre established the church through his pioneering work and sole funding, with the mission to convert the local population to the Catholic Christian faith.
The Alto Vista Chapel was the first church that was built in Aruba. It was dedicated to Mother St. Mary, also known as the “Mother of the Rosary”. In 1952 a new chapel was built in the same location. Long benches encircle the chapel to seat the congregation.
Outside you can find some benches that have been placed there to accommodate worshipers. The chapel does not have stained glass paneled windows you normally would find in churches. It does not have a cemetery, but you can find some white graves with crosses near the chapel.
Nowadays the chapel is still being used for Catholic Services like baptisms and marriages. Weekly services, both Catholic and non-Catholic, still take place at the chapel. On Good Friday every year, many locals from Oranjestad go on a pilgrimage to the chapel to celebrate and keep the Christian tradition alive.
The predominant religion in Aruba is Roman Catholicism. The majority of the population, approximately 75%, identifies as Roman Catholic. However, significant Protestant and other Christian denominations are also on the island, such as Methodist, Anglican, Seventh-day Adventist, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Additionally, there is a small but growing Jewish community in Aruba.
The island is also known for its religious festivals, such as Carnival and the Feast of St. John the Baptist, celebrated with parades, music, and traditional foods. While Aruba is a predominantly Catholic island, it is also known for its religious tolerance and diversity, with people of different faiths living harmoniously and respecting each other’s beliefs.
How to Get to the Alto Vista Chapel from the Cruise Port
To get to the Alto Vista Chapel from the cruise port, you have a few transportation options:
Taxi: Taxis are readily available at the cruise port. You can simply approach one of the taxi stands or ask the port authorities for assistance in finding a taxi. Inform the driver that you want to go to the Alto Vista Chapel, and they will take you directly there. It’s advisable to negotiate the fare or ensure that the meter is used before starting the journey.
Rental Car: If you prefer more flexibility and independence, you can rent a car from one of the car rental agencies available at or near the cruise port. Once you have the car, follow the directions to the Alto Vista Chapel. The chapel is located in the Noord district, and you can use a GPS or a map for guidance.
Excursion or Tour: Many tour operators and excursion companies offer trips to the Alto Vista Chapel as part of their itineraries. You can check with the cruise ship’s excursion desk or do some research online to find a tour that includes a visit to the chapel. This option provides transportation and often includes a guide who can provide additional information about the area.
It’s worth noting that the Alto Vista Chapel is located approximately 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from the cruise port, so the journey should take around 15-20 minutes by car or taxi, depending on traffic conditions.