The Salt Cathedral

Parque De La Sal, Zipaquirá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

About an hour north of Bogotá lies the so-called Salt Cathedral, an intriguing and impressive church that has been sculpted from the empty chambers of a working salt mine, one that’s been in operation since pre-Hispanic times. Beginning in the 20th century, miners began to decorate shafts with icons and saints from whom they sought protection. By 1954, a full-fledged cathedral had been carved into the rock and inaugurated; it has been attracting visitors from all over the world ever since. When a previous sanctuary became unstable, the current chapel was carved almost 200 feet deeper down and opened in 1995, complete with eerie lighting and beautiful sculptures. A visit is a moving experience even for nonbelievers.

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A Dark Walk through the Salt Cathedral

When I flew from New York to Bogotá, I didn’t really have plans to visit the city’s neighboring towns and villages. As I quickly found out, that’s a huge part of Bogotá's charm. If time permits, definitely take a day trip to Zipaquirá to see their famous Salt Cathedral. I opted to join an organized tour which cut down on the language barrier but if you’re on a tight budget, you can reach the city by bus. The Salt Cathedral is exactly what its name suggests - an underground cathedral lit up with lights and constructed with salt and other materials. Built in 1995, the cathedral depicts the stations of the cross and is undoubtedly one of Colombia’s most impressive architectural achievements. Entrance is open to the public and costs around COP 17,000 (roughly US $9-10)

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

This is an absolute must if travelling to Bogota, Colombia. Built 200 meters down one of the worlds largest salt mines, this cathedral is dedicated to the safety of the miners. The lighting below is incredible with 14 small chapels representing the stations of the cross. Truly incredible.

An Underground Cathedral Composed of Salt

Take the local bus from Bogota to Zipaquira -- it’s an interesting ride through the countryside. Walk through the laid-back town of Zipaquira to the Salt Cathedral. The residents will be happy to point you in the correct direction. Don’t let the ticket office bully you into joining a tour: explore the dramatically lighted recesses of the caves and lose yourself. Colombia & Mexico City trip report:

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