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Zipaquira’s Salty Secret

sunny 30 °C

The narrow streets of Zipaquira, a quaint colonial community in the mountains a few hours north of Bogota, are pretty enough on their own to attract hordes of tourists from the overcrowded capital…
It’s the weekend and the enormous central plaza is an oasis of calm in the early morning before the visitors arrive…
By 9am the detritus from last night’s revelries have vanished, the restaurants and bars are getting ready for another onslaught and the street cleaners and traders have everything spic and span for another day…
But the thousands of tourists and daytrippers that will pack the town today are not here to admire the beautiful architecture or to sample the local fare. They are here, like us, to go deep underground to visit Colombia’s premier attraction.
What do you do with a salt mine when the seams of sodium crystals have been worked out? Disused mines lay abandoned all over the world: some may be used for storage of spent uranium or growing mushrooms but the Colombians had a better idea. Why not turn the cavernous chambers into a vast underground cathedral?
The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira is an astounding sight. It is as immense as any of the world’s greatest ecclesiastical monuments. The enormous pillars of granite holding up the soaring rock roof must be fifty or more feet in circumference…
Each of the numerous side chapels could host the average wedding, although many white-gowned brides may not want to be upstaged by a shimmering altar of salt that seemingly flows like a frozen waterfall…
A thousand people could easily be lost in the dozens of lofty chambers that form part of this massive underground edifice, although many of them are filled with a tacky bazaar of religiously inspired trinkets. We skipped that part of the tour and just wandered in awe through the manmade maze of caves, marvelling at the ingenuity that turned a potential eyesore into a thing of beauty.

Posted by Hawkson 12:31 Archived in Colombia

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great pictures and very interesting

by keithandhelen

Extraordinary. Very beautiful.

by Sue Fitzwilson

extraordinary use of a mine but I think I'd be spooked down there for the duration of a service.

by The Vickerage

Spectacular. But another worked out salt mine! Are we at peak salt yet? But then, hey, there is always the ocean.

Very pretty little town too. Lovely deep blue sky. Looks like the weather has turned for you.

by Tom

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