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South America Snapshots
The Salt Cathedral of Zapaquirá

La Catedral de Salis located in Zapaquirá, Colombia, approximately 50 km north of Bogotá.  It is an underground Roman Catholic church built 200 meters underground in a Halite mountain.  The salt deposits were formed 250 million years ago and then pushed above sea level around the time the Andes mountains were formed.

Visitors wind through through maze-like corridors and sanctuaries passing the Stations of the Cross, which represent the events of Jesus’s last journey.  Although the salt carvings are quite intricate and impressive, the experience is made by the colorful lighting, strategically placed to highlight each area.  At the end of the path through the Salt Cathedral, there is a large pool of water that creates an amazing mirror (espejo in Spanish) effect.

The original church was built in the 1950s, but it had to be shut down due to structural instability and safety concerns.  In 1995, the new church was completed 200 feet below the original one.

This is actually a functioning church that can receive sometimes thousands of visitors on Sundays, however, it is not formally recognized by Catholicism because it has no bishop.

There are guided tours offered in both English and Spanish.  In addition, you can do the Ruta de Minero tour to learn what it is like to be a salt miner, watch a movie about the history of the mine and the creation of the cathedral, and take a look around the museum.

Although this is one of the more expensive attractions in Colombia, it is quite a unique and impressive site.  Check out the official government site for more information on prices, attractions, and how to get there.  This can easy be done as a day trip from Bogotá, and Zapaquirá is a nice little town to explore as well.

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