Mass Gospel in Harlem (with brunch and route through the neighborhood)


When we started looking for information about New York and it came out what to see in Harlem, all references led us to the same appeal (to call it that), a Gospel Mass in Harlem in addition to its famous brunch or some routes and itineraries. Mass Gospel? We have seen it in dozens of times in movies but how to run away from a tourist? We let ourselves be guided by the advice, we wake up early and, from what we feel, we are still looking for the words. UPDATED TO 2018/2019

Today we enjoyed one of the best days of a trip to New York which continued through Central Park (even by bicycle) and ended up in Madison Square Garden attending an NBA game of the New York Knicks, but we will go in parts ...

Harlem, northern Mahattan

One of the things I really wanted to do in New York (remember that there are tens as we summarize in our first planning article "Choosing the things to do in New York (P1)") was definitely walking through the main attractions to see in Harlem andattend a Gospel Masseven that brunch so famous that everyone was talking about

Remember that before coming to we had distributed our visit in "New York neighborhoods with detailed maps"Where Manhattan was completely broken down so that you can organize your own trip and see everything spatially, we are putting the maps and the shaded areas so that you know how to link it.Today takes us to the upper Manhattan area that we will combine with Central Park, taking advantage of it is Sunday and it is an unbeatable day.

In our initial planning we had already located our day (a Sunday), to enjoy such a special mass and for this we would move to another neighborhood of New York, Harlem, and make a small routine to get to know it and tell you that it is worth it Without a doubt, a visit on your trip to the "capital of the world" regardless of the experience of the Mass itself.

We are on the third day of our trip and today it's really early to get up since the mass we have chosen begins at 8'00. As you know we are staying at the Room Mate Grace, the best choice we could make, in the middle of Times Square. Touch take the subway to Harlem and we we will get off at stop 116St which is the closest to the church we have chosen.

The truth is that we arrived very fast and, although it is "super" early, the streets are already lively. As you well know we are in the city that never sleeps but nobody had told us that "the traveler either", hahaha, that's why the photos of our faces since last night will no longer improve throughout the trip (forgive us, right?).

Mass Gospel in Harlem, the feelings to the surface

But before starting to relate this exciting day (yes, that's the word) because even the most content can not help feeling emotion in this experience, we will make a brief walk through history. It is a musical genre characterized by the dominant use of choirs. It really is a spiritual and evangelical music Born in African-American churches in the 18th century, The meaning of gospel is in fact the word of God or "good news", whose letters usually reflect Christian values. A music born from the suffering of generations of African slaves who were stripped of their land to take them to America. These forced "immigrants" bring with them their own music in which they also combine dance.

Although gospel music is an American phenomenon, today it spreads throughout the world.We had previously chosen where to enjoy the gospel, fleeing of course from the typical crowded tourists (there are tours that take you to the gospel mass in harlem). The choice is Bethel Gospel Assembly (TO), founded in 1917 and one of the first churches of its kind, comes from the recommendation of other travelers but, above all, our friends Sonia and Manule who had also told us that The 8'00 session is unique. (At present it is no longer this time but the Mass begins at 10:15 a.m.)

The mass lasts about three hours, since in it not only sings and dances but the pastor gives his sermon, accounts are made, the activities that have been done in that week and those that will be carried out in the following are discussed, etc. . Bethel has two floors, one for parishioners and one for tourists. We were lucky in this because at the time of the first Mass, being so early, tourists mix us with the congregation (We think it should always be like this), so at the moment of entering there is a person waiting for you to show you your seat and the more punctual you are the closer you are to the front row.

I don't know if I'm going to be able to describe what I felt there in the middle of people. They welcome you as if you were part of that, you breathe fervor in abundance and people's feelings are in full bloom. To me specifically I was very excited, not only because of the songs we were listening to and that were wonderful, but because of the warmth that the ones sitting next to us showed you. It is indescribable, you have to live it to know what it feels like, It is very intense and even if you are not a believer it does not leave you indifferent.

They sing at the beginning one hour in a row (Mós Góspel can last three hours as we told you before) but their first song is dedicated to tourists. It is very exciting, welcoming you to what they consider your home. At that time they perform songs of all kinds, from the slowest to the most moved, with a soloist or with a duo always accompanied by a choir that never fails.

After this time proceed to ask for your alms but they have it very well organized since, in the middle of a song that although you resist it you will love it, we are going out in rows to deposit your contribution (6 USD we leave), which you will give with pleasure and do not even consider not doing it, although also It is true that you have no other choice, hehehe. That you do feel for a moment the protagonist since everyone who crosses you, as you return to your site, is hugging you and shaking hands to thank you.

Isaac took some photos that were not explicitly forbidden at any time (we had read that they said it could not be done). However, they are not of great quality, among other things because what we were living there did not give rise to many. I'm not going to cheat you, some tear dropped me ...

Finished the first hour, where we also saw our good friend come in (and get excited a couple of rows ago) Laura with Miguel, from Sunset Trip, we stay a little more attending the sermon (a very particular sermon) that has nothing to do with those who give in the Spanish churches.


Although we always give you all the information to organize the trip on your own, if you have little time or prefer to forget about preparations, you have the following option COMPLETELY IN SPANISH and with VERY GOOD OPINIONS from other travelers. This is a discounted excursion that includes pick-up / drop-off at the hotel, Mós Góspel ceremony and main points of interest in Harlem

Excursion to Kamakura and Yokohama from Tokyo

A sermon where almost all the time people are laughing and even come to interpret scenes as if it were a theater, in their eagerness to preach. Nevertheless, The fact of not having breakfast was making a dent in our stomachs and very carefully we went out on one side without bothering too much.

A brunch in Harlem, a must in the itineraries

Surely you have read or heard about the boom in New York (and in general in all Anglo-Saxon countries) with the Sunday or holiday brunch. If there is a neighborhood where they are fashionable, that is Harlem and our route after Mass Gospel was not going to do without one.

But on the way to our breakfast + lunch (brunch comes from breaksfast and lunch) was San Paul's Church, a parish founded in 1834 and which is registered as a New York historical landmark, one of the visits we had targeted for Harlem.

!! Time to fill the stomach !!! Being early still (the brunch, although they go from 10 to 13, are usually more famous after the 11'30 sessions) we decided to opt for one that we knew would be open, theAmy's Ruth(x1), from which we had read many and very good comments.

NEW YORK RESTAURANTS | HARLEM: Amy's Ruth, a different place, with charm and with a unique decoration that immediately takes you to the bars of years ago that we have seen in so many movies, with murals of musicians, athletes and artists.

What we could not even imagine was what this typical brunch consisted of, as you will see in the photos, it was about a big bucket filled with chips, chicken breast, fried eggs and all kinds of complements ... will I leave something? (Mental note: ask for little will come to you for sure hehehe)

It almost gave me a strange "yuyu" when I saw what we had asked for but well, the people we had around with different dishes (there are a thousand options) had them up to the flag like us. All this accompanied by a coffee and a glass of water that you put in all places without asking, for about 34 USD both. Energy was not going to be lacking for the day that we had left (and for five more, hehehehe.) And we already had it to enjoy the bike in Central Park without having to stop too much to eat.

If they ask me before traveling to New York to describe what a brunch would be like, I would certainly stay in olives accompanied by a vermoth at most. I think I had a totally wrong idea, don't you think?

By the way, I think we have commented on it but the router they gave us at the hotel helped a lot when we stopped for a while to put those pictures on the internet. This was its size. If you stay at the Room Mate Grace Ask for it, which is free.

With the belly like a ball we follow the route, where we quickly saw the other options for that brunch that we had targeted as they were the Red rooster, a very trendy and lively place, or the mythical place here, the Sylvia's Restaurant, with a lot of charm but opened at 11'00.

After enjoying our first brunch and walking very slowly, as you can imagine, we headed to the points of interest to see in Harlem after the Gospel Mass and the brunch.

What to see in Harlem, the origin of African-American music clubs

The first of them, the Apollo Theater, we really wanted to see it since it is one of the most famous music clubs in the United States and of course one of the most relevant in the history of African American music.

In it they began their careers as Michael Jackson or Etta James


All a reference of black music and a place of worship for the mythomaniacs, whose beginnings would distract much from what would become later, since it could be seen burlesque erotic shows destined for white wealthy people who could afford it. In 1933 a new stage would begin giving opportunity to black music and celebrating the so-called "Amauteur Nights" for the discovery of emerging talents. From here would come very important figures that would mark times like the Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder or James Brown

Nowadays you can see concerts, plays and educational programs. It has become the cultural heart of Harlem.

We had only traveled a small part of Harlem but I can already say that what we saw we liked very much. Harlem is of course a district of New York where you can quietly stay and enjoy it if you come with enough days Or else it's your first trip to the Big Apple.

We also pass near other famous churches of Misa Góspel in Harlem asGreater Refuge Temple (B) orAntioch Baptist Church (C), although what surprised us most is the tranquility and peace enjoyed by a neighborhood that years ago was more problematic (always according to the news - you know that about prejudices)

Another of the must-see that we had "imposed" was the General Grant Memorial, crossing a large rail transit area to the west coast of Manhattan. Grant was a defender of the Union, this memorial is one of the largest in North America and this does not only represent his final rest, since here is his grave, but also his life and his achievements.

We leave the Cotton club 3  where the movie was inspired (it was down from where we were) and the Church of the Intercession and we headed towards the famousColumbia University, a more traditional institution of higher education in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States and the scene of multiple films, how many mentions of it we will have heard and now being in front is a real past hehehehe

Formerly it was located on 49th Street but it was transferred, being one of its greatest achievements, to the wider campus of Morningside Heights designed as an urban academic town. The truth is that it is an essential visit.

And the last thing we wanted to see in Harlem was the imposing Cathedral of Saint John the Divine 6  since it is the largest Anglican cathedral in the world, functioning today as the seat of the archbishopric of the episcopal church in New York.

What most attracts attention is its rosette composed of more than 10,000 colored crystals and which is the largest in the United States, as well as its similar gate

And with this we conclude part of our morning, after a brief coffee-bun (9.25 USD) as we expect a more than desired visit ... !! Central Park! although we must recognize that Harlem HAS LOVED US and that when we return to New York, we will do it (right Isaac?) we will not stop returning to that Mass Gospel in Harlem, the places to see in Harlem and taste its classic brunch and why not? maybe enjoy a real live jazz, sure that very different from the one seen last night Photo of Columbia University

(Continue on DAY 3 (II): Central Park, New York by bike)