Monday, May 16, 2011

Catedral de Sal, Colombia

Visiting the Catedral de Sal (Salt Cathedral) is one of the top destinations in Colombia. Located in the town of Zipaquira, it has been declared the First Wonder of Colombia. Inside the Halite mountain, 200 meters underground, the cathedral is a Catholic church built within the tunnels of an existing salt mine. There are roughly 3,000 visitors who come on Sundays even though there is no actual service.

The climbing wall, which is just outside the entrance to the salt mine is the highest in Columbia and another activity for visitors. 
There are three levels within the salt mine and only 5% of the entire mine is part of the cathedral. Entering on the top level you pass the Stations of the Cross. Fourteen small chapels illustrating the events of Jesus last journey. The stations are each abstract with crosses in different forms and positions representing the meaning of each station.
I.N.R.I carved into the salt; Latin for Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews
Dedicated memorial to miners who lost their lives five years ago in the mine.
After passing the stations of the cross, you reach the overlook where you can view the central nave of the cathedral.
The cathedral has three halls representing the birth, life and death of Jesus.
Sculpture of the creation of man, by Michelangelo, in the central nave of Cathedral.
The cross, largest underground cross in the world, is 16x10 meters and is carved out of the back wall with lighting behind it to make it appear like it is floating.
Nativity scene
The smaller chapel that is often used for weddings
Another main attraction is the water mirror. The surroundings are illuminated by the reflection of the light on the salt water creating an optical effect.
After visiting the salt mine we hopped on the tourist train and headed into the town of Zipaquira.
The main plaza in town.

Zipaquira Cathedral

City Hall

Was the trip worth it? 
The Salt Cathedral is pretty remarkable and we took the guided tour so it provided us with a lot of great history. I think if you have more than a few days to spend in the Bogota area, and it interests you, then go. Personally, I would not make a special trip if you are crunched for time. It is not a "must-see" attraction (in my opinion).
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