February 5, 2021

Zipaquirá Cathedral: The First Wonder of Colombia

Zipaquira, Colombia
Moderate
5+hours

A Unique and Spiritual Experience

Hey everyone, Mark here! Thanks for following along with me on all of my adventures. Our most recent journey was exploring the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá in Colombia. This was a must-see because of how amazing and breathtaking this spot truly is. It’s no surprise that it is one of Colombia’s most famous churches. The former salt mine is located about 600 feet underground, filled with Roman Catholic icons such as the Archangel Gabriel. Everything in the cave is carved out of salt. Talk about cool! It is such a unique and spiritual experience that you have to see it to believe it! This cathedral will forever be one of the top 10 places I have ever laid my eyes on.

 The Journey Underground

Getting down into the cathedral is an experience of a lifetime. Because the church is built underneath the caverns and tunnels left behind by miners, we had to meander through the winding cave as if we were the miners themselves. Along the walk, there was a beautiful symphony of sounds filling the salty air from the hidden speakers built into the caves. We listened as opera and all sorts of religious music bounced off the cave walls, setting the tone for a deep spiritual experience during the 3-kilometer walk down. In addition to music, there was more entertainment along the way. A really cool documentary about the construction of the cathedral and its religious and political impact on the entire country of Colombia was playing in a movie theatre. It was fascinating to hear how one site could effect the entire country!

A Sight To Be Seen

At the end of the long, winding tunnel, we finally saw the church in all its glory! We walked through a 200-foot archway into the cathedral. When we looked up we saw beautiful, breath-taking chandeliers hanging from all over the walls inside the cave. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed that anyone could turn an old salt mine into a stunning world-class cathedral!  The word unique isn’t enough to express how matchless this cathedral truly is.  I think everybody should see it once in their lifetime, whether they consider themselves to be “religious” or not. You will be moved by the experience.

There are multiple attractions to be seen once in the Cathedral. Imagine a food hall with a capacity for 300 people, or an auditorium and convention center with the capacity to seat between 260-800 people. These large venues exist 600 feet underground here! There is also a coffee shop, the highest rock climbing wall in Colombia, and much more. The journey in and out of the cave is difficult, but not ridiculous. Keep in mind, you are 600 feet underground with a lot of sulfur in the air. It’s dark and dank for a while, but when you see the shaft gradually widen to the glorious sight of the cathedral it’s totally worth the little discomfort it takes to get there!

Where It All Began

I found the cathedral to be incredibly impressive. I mean, how did the miners build something like this? How did they even bring equipment down there and why did they decide to build it? We did some metaphorical digging and found out that back in the 1930s, the miners originally built a very small sanctuary inside the caverns to pray in. They would pray to the Virgin of the Rosary of Guasá, the patron saint of miners for protection from toxic gases, explosions, and other accidents that would typically take place in a salt mine.

Fast forward to today, the site receives about 600,000 visitors annually. And although it’s not among the Seven Wonders of the World, Colombia’s Congress proclaimed the Salt Cathedral to be “the first wonder of Colombia.” on February 4, 2007.

Thanks for checking out this blog entry. I love this platform and being able to share my experiences with you. See you next time as we continue to explore Colombia. Feel free to read more about me on my site.

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Big Guy Big World is a travel blog, following Mark Jacoby’s journey as a big guy on a bigger journey, exploring the world during a global pandemic. Follow along as we experience some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places.

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