America > South America > Colombia > The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá in Colombia

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá in Colombia

By Samantha |

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is a must-see in your upcoming trip to Bogotá. It’s a one-of-a-kind underground architectural structure that celebrates Colombia’s mining tradition.

Previously, we have already talked about Colombia. We’ve praised its famous beaches in the Caribbean Sea as well as its quaint towns such as Guatape.  Only 25 kilometers from Bogotá you’ll find the municipality of Zipaquirá. Maybe you know it as “the City of Salt”. It’s called like that due to the mining tradition this municipality has. At Salt Park, you will find an unparalleled tourist attraction that DINKtravelers suggests visiting. We’re talking about the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. This attraction is a one-of-a-architectural icon in Colombia. In case you doubt this, just think that in order to visit it, you’ll have to go 180 meters underground!

How to get to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

The best way to get to Zipaquirá is by taking public tranportation from Bogotá. You can take the buses in different places and at different times, every day of the week. We suggest you get to the Transmilenio Portal north station and in the section of inter-municipal buses take any bus to Zipaquirá. Already in the City of Salt Mines you can get off at Parque de la Esperanza. The estimated cost is 17 USD, buy your tickets online here. From there you can take a taxi or walk the 15 squares to reach the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá.

Mining Square, a Must See Attraction in Zipaquirá

The adventure in Zipaquirá begins at Minig Square. It was created as a tribute to the workers of this salt mine and, in general, to all the Colombian miners.

The ample square serves as an anteroom to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. It resembles an amphitheater where different artistic events take place throughout the year. The two elements that stand out at the square are the sculpture of a miner and a wooden climbing wall. Then, next to the ticket office, you’ll find a cafeteria and a souvenir shop, but you should leave this visit until after your tour. This way you’ll choose a souvenir that best represents what you liked the most about the City of Salt Mines.

[Agregar foto de la Plaza del Minero o de la escultura del minero]

Brine Museum at the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

Before entering the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, visit the Brine Museum. There you will find a structure that was used during the 60s and 70s to extract the salt rock from the mine. In addition, you will learn all about the salt production process and how, in colonial times, scientist Alexander Von Humboldt taught the miners how to enter the rock massif by means of tunnels. The guided tour takes approximately 25 minutes and it will offer you a broad perspective of the activity that took place in the City of Salt Mines.

Mirror of Water at the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

An interesting spot that you will find in your tour inside the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is the mirror of water. It recreates the moment when the salt was extracted from the mine and then dissolved in water creating a mixture of salt and carbonaceous clays. As the clay dissolved, they sank to the bottom. The saturated water resembles a mirror. When using a little light on the surface it reflects the walls and roofs creating an effect of seeming depth.

The Project for the New Cathedral of Zipaquirá

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá you will visit was the result of a competition. That’s how they chose the architect that would make the project for the New Cathedral. The winner was Roswell Garavito, who proposed a very challenging work. The structure he proposed was entirely made of salt extracted from the mine. Everything you’ll see there was carved in this mineral.

Guided Tours of the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

Guided tours last no more than two hours, but if you can stay as long as you want after the tour. This way you’ll have the chance to take the photos and keep a beautiful memory of your trip to the City of Salt Mines. Actually, if you like geology, you’ll love to photograph the stalactites that give the site a prehistoric appearance. These natural formations can measure up to one meter in height! Increase the ISO levels of your camera to let more light in and get clearer pictures. This will compensate for the dim illumination you’ll find there.

The Sculptures of the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

You don’t need to be a believer to visit The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. Although it’s a popular site for religious tourism in Bogotá, it’s an interesting attraction for anywone who likes original architectural work. In this case, the Salt Cathedral was built underground and it’s entirely made of salt. Still, take into account that the works of art you’ll find there have a religious theme.

At the beginning you will see several sculptures of the Stations of the Cross. Then, you will find a huge cross. You will surely imagine that it weighs tons, but, in fact, you’ll be surprised to know that it’s very light! It’s carved on salt stone and the was filled with lights that create the illusion of a heavy weight.

[Agregar imagen de la Cruz]

During the tour you will also find images that portray passages of the Bible, as well as a salt waterfall. Next, at the main nave you’ll find a huge cross made in bas-relief. It’s the largest underground cross in the world, measuring 16 meters high by 10 meters wide. At this same place you will see another work of art called “The Creation of Man”. It’s a tribute to the Renaissance artist Michaelangelo, and it was made by sculptor Carlos Enrique Rodríguez Arango.

Souvenirs of the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

At the end of the tour, visit the souvenirs shops. There is also a room where 3D films are projected, a hall where you can watch a LED lights show, and a coffee shop. It’s everything you need to enjoy a great day underground.

Visit the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá without Claustrophobic 

If you’re worried about feeling a little bit claustrophobic, don’t panic! The enclosure has a ventilation system that includes several tunnels and galleries. It can house up to 7,000 people at the same time without any risk of a collapse, so the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is very safe.

The Best Time to Visit the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

A very important tradition of the municipality of Zipaquirá is celebrated on October 23rd. This day is dedicated to the Virgin of Guasá, patron of miners. Miners pray to her on a daily basis, asking for her protection since their work is very risky.

[Agregar foto del desfile de la Virgen de Guasá]

Although the celebration of the Virgin of Guasá has a religious connotation, you’ll discover that it also has a great cultural worth. The celebration includes a parade, music and dance performances events; also, will give you the opportunity to taste typical food from Colombia. Try the salted potato  –cooked with salt extracted from the mines of Zipaquirá–  and the pink caramel. This last one is a typical sweet made with water, sugar and lemon, added with pink food coloring.

The Miner’s Route in the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

Make your visit to the City of Salt Mines a fun learning experience by participating in the Miner’s Route. The tour lasts between 35 minutes and 1 hour, and in it you’ll learn about geological salt formations. You’ll also visit a unique viewpoint to observe the Salt Waterfall Site and the Arcángel Custodio (Guardian Archangel). Finally, you’ll be told about the tools used in mine exploitation.

Without a doubt, visiting the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá in Colombia is an unforgettable experience. It takes you 180 meters underground to learn about mining and discover art. Let yourself be surprised and visit it in your next trip to Bogotá.