A city break to Bogotá is made extra fun by all the wonderful things to see and do around this metropolis. By bus you can easily take a day trip to wondrous natural beauty or cute villages. And, thus, to salt mines. There are two close to the city: Zipaquirá and Nemocón. Both with their own character. To give you an insight into the world of Colombian salt, today I’m taking you deep underground: into the salt mine!
The salt cathedral of Zipaquirá
In Zipaquirá, a town 50 kilometers north of Bogotá, you will find an underground salt cathedral. Only three such salt cathedrals exist worldwide: one in Colombia, the other two in Poland. In this salt mine, among the beautiful mountains near Bogotá, two cathedrals were created. At the beginning of the twentieth century, miners carved out the first one, which was inaugurated in 1954, only to be permanently closed for safety reasons in 1990. Between 1991 and 1995, some 250,000 pounds of salt were removed to carve out the new and current underground shrine, now considered one of the most important monuments in Colombia. The cathedral has a length of 75 meters, is 18 meters high and has a capacity of as many as 8,400.
A tour of the salt mine in Zuipaquirá
The tour of the salt mine leads us past 14 chapels depicting the Stations of the Cross of Jesus Christ. The path ends at the cathedral, which is divided into three sections depicting the birth, life and death of Jesus. Quite an imposing picture.
Visiting the salt cathedral in Zipaquirá
The salt cathedral is a major tourist attraction: on weekends and holidays it is insanely crowded. Therefore, try to avoid these days. It is mandatory to take a guided tour (also available in English), but afterwards you can stay in the mine yourself for as long as you want. The cathedral is also actually in use: you can attend a church service in this extraordinary structure on Sundays.
Choose your tour, the cost and more information
Several tours are available, ranging in price from 50,000 pesos (€15.00, May 2017), quite expensive by Colombian standards. Despite its far too expensive, huge crowds and heavy emphasis on religion, it is still worth visiting this great pride of Colombia. The cathedral is beautiful and also a unique structure. For a second time, however, I will not go there again. Want more information about (visiting) the salt mine? Then click here. There is more to do and see in Zipaquirá besides the cathedral: see herefor tips!
A feast for the eyes: the salt mine in Nemocón
Half an hour from Zipaquirá, or 74 kilometers from Bogotá, in a small cute village, is the salt mine of Nemocón, a mine smaller and less massive than in Zipaquirá. Between the years 1816 and 1968, some 8 tons of salt were extracted in the tunnels of this salt mine. Together with my parents, I am preparing for a trip 80 meters underground. A guide leads us through the dark tunnels. All around us I see only darkness and salt. But it soon becomes apparent that this small salt mine has much more to offer.
Colors and water underground
Small waters beautifully reflect the colorful salt walls. A spectacle of light that holds our attention for a long time. Very special! In peace we enjoy this beautiful picture, whose color changes over and over again. Lampposts along the water’s edge complete it.
The tour, cost and more information
For the tour you pay 24000 pesos (€7.30, May 2017), again a high price, but much cheaper than the salt cathedral. Religious stories are also told in this mine, but you will get more information about the history of the mine’s origins and the flora and fauna in the immediate area. For more information about (visiting) the salt mine or the village of Nemocón, click here.
The salt mines around Bogotá: ideal for a day trip and a first introduction to Colombia. Click here for 21 more day trips from Bogotá.