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Located in the mountain town of Zipaquirá, the Catedral de Sal – just 48 kilometres from Bogotá – is a spectacular must-see attraction. An architectural treasure, the country’s most famous sanctuary, a natural wonder of the world: there is no lack of superlatives to describe the salt cathedral. Carved into the dark corridors of a salt mine, this impressive church is truly unique.
A church inside a salt mine, it does seem an odd combination. However, for centuries the mine workers have been carving chapels out of the rock salt walls of the mine. Here the workers prayed every day before going to work to ask for God’s protection in carrying out their dangerous work. The first official cathedral, built in 1954, was closed in 1990 but 5 years later a new cathedral was inaugurated. The design by architect Roswell Garavito Pearl is often regarded as one of the most impressive feats of Colombian architecture.
The nave of the church lies in the deepest point of the salt cave; aisles on the left and right lead to the 16-metre-high central cross behind the main altar. The interior of the cathedral includes a rich collection of artwork made from salt or marble. Admire the beautiful guardian angel by Italian sculptor Ludovico Consorte and La Piedad, a tribute to the Muisca Indians who inhabited this region. The unique lighting inside the church creates an ephemeral, mysterious atmosphere.