Colombia, South America

Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

May 31, 2015
View of main nave from the top
One of the stations of the cross

One of the stations of the cross

Salt and God! In the small town of Zipaquira 90 minutes from Bogota is the spectacular underground Salt Cathedral. When salt deposits, industry and Catholic salt miners meet there’s only one option and that’s to create a sanctuary for the saints for protection for the days work. After a couple of decades an official project began and the Salt Cathedral was created with a dedication to the patron saint of the miners.

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Today when you walk through the one-hour tour you are guided through a new Cathedral that was constructed in the 1990s. You walk through the 14 stations of the cross each represented by a cross and some with objects to kneel and pray.

Our tour guide on the far right

Our tour guide on the far right

Of course if you come in with the wrong guide you may end up learning nothing and being frustrated like we did. At one point our own guide left us, perhaps because we were asking questions about the place or because we asked her to repeat things because we couldn’t hear, I can’t really say.

View of the main nave

View of the main nave

View of main nave from the top

View of main nave from the top

So after the stations of the cross we were led down to the old cathedral which holds the largest underground cross and stands about 6 meters tall on the main altar. This was when we were ditched by our tour guide. Anyways continuing through the main, left, and right naves you see icons representing various aspects of the religion including the birth of Jesus.

Nativity scene

Nativity scene

Once you get out of the cathedrals you are of course led to a light show, tons of souvenir shops, a 3D movie and some expensive popcorn stands. If you are able to get through the tour without seeing this all the better for you as the tourist traps inside are a bit overwhelming. But considering the cost of the church being nearly 300 million US dollars I guess they have to make that money back somehow. It seemed like a pretty slow day (we went on a Wednesday) as we had a group of 20 people with us and when we lined up to enter we were in the front of the line. Apparently on the weekends it’s packed and each tour guide has groups of 60-80 people. Considering we had issues hearing and interacting with our guide with less people I would have hated to going on a weekend where I imagine it’s a huge circus. Given it’s ranking as the top wonder of Colombia’s 7 Wonders we would advise you to come during the week to avoid the craziness of the weekends at the Salt Cathedral of Zipiquira.

Walls of salt deposits

Walls of salt deposits

Exit and entrance tunnel into the cathedral

Exit and entrance tunnel into the cathedral

Logistics

Note: Tours from most hostels will run about 150,000 COP. Below is the DIY info

Transportation
From Bogota- Take the Transmileno to Portal Norte- 1,500 COP. Then take a Flota to Zipaquira- 3,000 COP
The flota/bus will drop you off at the bus station and it’s a nice leisurely 15 minute walk up to the Salt Cathedral.

Ticket entrance– 26,000 COP includes a tour guide (not always that great; just our experience) and a 3D animation movie about the history of the region.

Food – any restaurant with menu del dia (menu of the day) will charge 6,000-8,000 for a full meal. We ate further down and wish we went closer to the main square. Popcorn in the cathedral was 3000 COP.

Other notes- If coming from Bogota allow 2 hours one way and about 3 hours total in town including some time to walk around and eat.

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