The Cathedral Inside a Mine – Zipaquirá, Colombia

Exploring Zipaquira Salt Cathedral, Bogota, Colombia

The immense religious devotion of some salt miners that worked close to Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, in the town of Zipaquirá, created one of the world’s most magnificent underground constructions: The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá.

The original Cathedral was built in one of the salt mines close-by in 1954.  Due to the ground conditions and the poor safety conditions the Cathedral was built on, it had to be closed on 1990.

Since the place was by then considered a National monument and had lots of faithful wanting to visit, the Government of Bogotá decided to build a new one, with all the safety measures required and using truly impressive architectural designs. This is the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá that one visits today.

I had heard about the Cathedral over the years, but I never thought it could move my senses as it did. I have visited plenty of churches, including ones with great art and gold ornamentation; but this is with no doubt the first time I have felt such a profound spiritual reaction to a place of worship. I think that for a moment I even felt like crying.

Main aisle and apse, Zipaquira

When I imagined the Cathedral, I conceived it as a small place where you could see a sculpture of the Virgin Mary and maybe some saints. But, as I continued the visit, I realized why it is called a Cathedral, and not just a Church.  Inside  it, you can pass the 14 Stations of the Passion of Christ, each of them represented through art works made out of salt.  The architect made sure that every little detail had a spiritual meaning, inviting you to travel into the past and also to reconsider your faith.

As our guide repeated several times, the main concept of the place is based on the saying “Jesus is the Cross… and the Cross is Jesus”.  The lights are arranged so that every cross has its relevance, and it even makes you doubt what you are seeing: sometimes, you can think the cross is carved in the wall or floating from a cable. The play of perspectives is a work of genius.

We were told on our arrival in Bogotá that the Cathedral was in the “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” book. Well, I can guarantee you that it is there for a reason: everyone who is fond of art, religion, architecture and history should visit this very special Cathedral at least once in their lifetime.

By: Carolina Alban, MT Ecuador,

To visit Zipaquira with Metropolitan Touring, find out more at:

For more images of Zipaquira, see our Flickr gallery

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