Chiá, ColombiaAugust 9 in Colombia
The rural area of Chiá, Colombia. Quiet, peaceful and amazing views of the mountains
The rural area of Chiá, Colombia. Quiet, peaceful and amazing views of the mountains
Day 2, In Chiá, Colombia🇨🇴🏞️
Also known as the Diocese Cathedral was inaugurated and consecrated on November 9th, 1870. Its interior paintings were finished in 1916 and it was finally exalted as a Cathedral in 1952, the year the Zipaquira diocese was created.
Years before the underground church was built (around 1932), the miners had carved a sanctuary, as a place for their daily prayers asking for protection to the saints before starting to work. In 1950, the construction of a bigger project had begun: the Salt Cathedral which was inaugurated on August 15, 1954 and dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary, Patron saint of miners. It was compound of three naves and a monumental cross. Part of the galleries were actually carved by the ancient Muisca. However, as the church was carved inside an active mine, structural problems and safety concerns led the authorities to shut it in September 1992. The building had 120m length and 22m height. It had six main columns, and a maximum capacity of 8000 people. The main nave included the monumental cross, which was illuminated from the base up, projecting a large cross-shaped shadow in the ceiling.
In 1991 the construction of a new cathedral was undertaken, 200 feet under the older one. This new Cathedral was inaugurated on December 16, 1995. Its various corridors and sanctuaries were achieved by making small but significant additions to the caves left behind by previous mining operations.
The tour actually lasted almost 45 min. Our guide left us at the end of the salt mine. There were many souvenir shops there. In fact, I have never seen that many souvenir shops in one place before. There were counters for salt figurines, salt jewelry, salt based bathing soaps, salt based body products etc. There were even emerald counters since Colombia is famous for its emeralds.Read more
I can't remember let alone pronounce the name of this nice little town that is made famous by its stunning salt cathedral.
You start by walking down a tunnel oozing with salt and are soon 200m below the surface. This used to be an active salt mine, but as techniques progress they start mining the next layer down. They're currently mining level 4 down, using water which creates huge bottle shaped caverns. Previously they used long corridors and they spent 11 years converting this layer into a cathedral.
There are 14 stations of the cross carved into the long rectangular caverns. Each cross is many metres high so you can imagine (or just look at the photos!) how impressive they are when lit up. Then you hit the main cathedral on a balcony looking out over 3 massive caverns.
As you delve to the far end there's a super tacky light show and lots of tourist tat, which did make it feel a little less reverent although a lot more Colombian.Read more
I'm wearing a jumper...and pants! At least I've discovered what was taking up all that room in my bag!
Colombia's capital is situated in the highlands, some 3200m above sea level. Geographically speaking it's actually in the northern most fingers of the Andes mountains. It's not quite snowing but certainly cool and if you ask my compatriot, she'll be sure to inform you that by cool, I mean cold. That is if she can be heard through the layers of clothes under which she hides her thermally unstable self. It's a shock for us and a welcome reminder we need to get serious about finding some warm clothes for Patagonia and the onset of the approaching southern hemisphere winter. Shorts and singlets are going deep in our bags, at least for now; the cold is here.
Our first day in Bogotá was long. It started at 3am when we were booted off our bus (see last footprint) and played out similarly to our first day in Medellín - save for the fact that nothing was open at 6am when we began exploring and nothing would open until 8am. We discovered Bogotá's café secret: hot drinks come with bread and cheese - nearly a meals worth of food. Our five hour wait for breakfast well worth it, in quantity if not anything else. Being Sunday, the day before all museums close we decided to tick off the Gold museum and Police museum, neither of which offered enough to hold our concentration or engage our brains - probably not a great choice of activity after all. That culminated with one of many shopping attempts for warm clothes, a quick home cooked meal and an early bed.
Monday's bicycle tour was probably our best tour to date. A group of ten or so of us were let loose on the crazy streets of Bogotá, trailing our guide and a very smiley spanish speaking mechanic. We visited fresh fruit markets where we got really stuck in to trying many of Colombia's seemingly infinite number of tropical fruit. So many delightful treats have been sitting under our noses for far too long! Next up was Tejo - a Colombian game which involves beer, petanque-eske motions, hunks of steel, clay, and gunpowder. I shant explain the rules but from what you can imagine it can be loud and rowdy. Stop three was the coffee factory which we've seen way too much of but were quick to jump at the chance to lap up a cappuccino.
One of the most interesting parts of the tour was the graffiti. Bogotá is covered in it from head to toe but on the most part it's not graffiti - it's street art. Not too long ago the city was plagued with graffiti. The government had an idea to allow street artists to decorate its infrastructure by holding a competition in which artists could select a space and propose their work. The winners were granted the space, the materials and some cash to decorate their part of the city. In doing so, other 'artists' respected their work (more so than a blank wall) and took their graffiti elsewhere. The idea took off and before they knew it Colombians were paying artists to paint their walls with all kinds of works. It's turned a problem into an intriguing part of the city's culture.
We summoned the courage to take multiple buses to the very distant and rather expensive salt cathedral, buried in the salt mines. It was nice to get out of town and meet some smiley locals and we were grateful to have missed Santa Semaña at the cathedral...it sounded chaotic! The salt cathedral is buried in a disused salt mine (the new mine operated below the cathedral) and hosts numerous places of prayer including three large churches, numerous gift shops, a reflection room, a theatre, a light show and of course a cafe and bathrooms. It's huge. But no huger than you would expect for a mine. Highlight of the day: watching Cat lick the wall to see if salt really did taste like salt.
After what seemed like an eternity of shopping in Bogotá, we finally managed to acquire boots and thermals and a fleece for Cat. We visited three malls and dozens of shops to do so. Not recommended...probably should have just waited until Patagonia. Ah well, we'll be there soon enough!Read more
The bus dropped us on the South side of the small town of Zipaquira. From here, the main square of the Parque Principal is about 2 kms and the Underground Salt Cathedral is about 1.5 kms West of the town, just outside the limits of the town. Zipaquira is a beautiful town. The cobbled streets and the wooden balconies and brightly painted facades reminded us of Cusco. The feeling was much more reinforced when we reached the Parque Principal. That place looked exactly like the main square in Cusco. A wide open space with cobbled flooring, beautiful Spanish colonial buildings all around and a lovely church.Read more
From the main square, we walked Westwards to the Salt Cathedral. By the time we reached the entrance, it was almost 12 pm.
The Salt Cathedral is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 metres below the ground in a halite (rock salt) mountain near Zipaquira. It is a very popular tourist destination and place of pilgrimage in the country. The temple at the bottom has three sections, representing the birth, life, and death of Jesus. The icons, ornaments and architectural details are hand carved in the halite rock. Some marble sculptures are also there.Read more
We climbed onto the halite hill. The path leading up is through some nicely manicured lawns and the entrance is at the top. The ticket price of 55,000 COP for adult foreigners is extremely steep. Its not cheap for locals as well. One would need an id for entry as a local and still costs 35,000 COP. An honest opinion would be, its not really worth the money, but if one is in Bogota it is definitely worth a visit once. Included in the ticket is a tour guide. There are tours in Spanish and English, but the frequency of the English tours is quite less. We were lucky that the next English tour was at 1 pm. That gave us enough time to eat some quick food as lunch at the expensive restaurants near the entrance of the cave. The tour started promptly at 1 pm and our guide told us not to take pictures while we were with him as he wanted to do the tour in the given 30 min and that after the tour we would have time till 7 pm in the evening to go around wherever we pleased and take as many pictures as we liked. This was a good idea, as we could focus on listening about the history of the cave etc. and later there was no one pushing us to run while we took the pictures.
Salt deposits in Zipaquira were formed around 250 million years ago, and were raised above sea level during the late Tertiary period, when the Andes were formed.
The halite mines were exploited already by the pre-Columbian Muisca culture since the 5th century BC. According to records from the 1800s, Zipaquira had deposit bigger than the main halite mines of the time, such as those in Spain, Switzerland, Poland and the County of Tyrol with a calculated resource estimation of one million cubic meters.Read more
Near the end of the cave, the was a room where there were colorful images being projected on the barrel shaped roof. The chairs were in the shape of lounge chairs pushed back in such a way that one could lie down and look up towards the roof where the various cultural things from Colombia were being projected. The show was for about 15 min. After that we went to the auditorium where a film ‘Guaza’ was being projected in 3D. The movie recreates the history of the salt dome formation and operating methods that lead to the construction of this majestic cathedral of salt, which is entirely man-made.
From here, we retraced our steps all the way back towards the entrance of the cave.Read more
You might also know this place by the following names:
Departamento de Cundinamarca, Cundinamarca