Zipaquirá is a quaint town near Bogota where there is a Cathedral inside a Salt hill. The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá was built inside the tunnels of a functioning salt mine.
On Saturday on the way to the Cathedral we met an Australian woman and two South Africans who now live in Australia. It’s always a pleasure to meet friendly travellers along the way! To get to the Cathedral you need to take a bus to Terminal Portal Norte and from there buses leave every ten minutes to Zipaquirá. It is a 15minute walk to the Cathedral from where the bus drops you off. The trip takes about two hours.
You walk up a hill to get to the entrance of the Cathedral. There are guided tours in English and Spanish. Your entrance ticket of 23,000COP includes a guided tour, an (overrated)LED light show and a 3D movie.
Our Spanish guide led us into the Cathedral and past symbolic sculptures that represent the crucification and resurrection of Christ.
After the symbolic sculptures, we were led to a balcony where we looked out over the main section of the cathedral where the biggest underground cross stands behind the altar. Up to 3000 people attend the church on a Sunday.
The size of the tunnels and the cathedral is larger than I had expected. Inside the tunnels there are foodstalls, a coffeeshop and many dealers selling emeralds.
Interesting fact: Most of the world’s emeralds come from Colombia.
It’s a strange thought to be surrounded by salt. The walls tasted salty – I licked a salt piece off my finger. The colour of the salt differs from white to gray to black. Our tourguide told us not to worry about earthquakes – apparently you don’t feel the quivers when you are underground in the salt mine.
At the end of one tunnel is a water mirror where you look into 10cm deep salty water and see the reflection of the roof.
We paid 6,000COP extra to also do a mining route inside the mine. We where forced to walk in the dark for a while – it’s weird to just see blackness in front of you and to have no idea where the walls or roof are. We ‘mined’ a bit with picks and even experienced a fake dynamite explosion.
The salt mine/ Cathedral is a fun day excursion if you are spending a few days in Bogota.