It would have been a hot and mostly uphill walk up there and with no real signage for their most famed attraction, we opted for a short taxi ride which in the midday sun was probably not a bad idea. The mine offered cool relief from the heat. It was a lot more ornate than either of us had anticipated with many of the salt sculptures illuminated in colored lights but with such a limited scope of subjects, it grew a bit boring for us after twenty minutes or so. Not so for the Colombians who comprised nearly the entirety of visitors the day we were there. They positively adored the place and I guess being good Catholics were unperturbed by the religious theme that pervaded. As we grew tired of the actual salt cathedral we found ourselves mostly watching the locals so obviously enjoying what for them is a very big attraction. They would go from one depiction of Christ's last days to the next with seeming glee, taking photos in front of each one. We marched along with them and got a good glimpse into Colombians enjoying themselves as tourists in their own country.
Would I go again? Probably not but I'm glad I did as much for the view of the Colombians as for the salt cathedral itself.
The town is a sleepy Colonial charmer and it's "famed" salt mine is admittedly stunning but for me it was the chance to see Colombians enjoying what is obviously a treasure to them that was the true icing on this cake.
Fondest memory: There are places you just have to go to and then there are places that you kind of should go to but for some reason you have a hard time mustering the desire to carry out the deed. That's how Zipaquira was for me. Considered the day trip from Bogota, I was having a hard time getting worked up about a salt mine. Not that the salt mine didn't sound about a good as a salt mine could sound. It was the bus there that I was dreading. Oddly enough, it would be the first bus trip of our two-month Colombian trip but with the second one the very next day and it starting on the exact same road, it would have been easy to just blow it off and spend yet another day in Bogota.
Of course, we did go and the bus wasn't so bad. It was, after all, the first bus ride of the trip and it was nice to finally get into the Colombian countryside. The town itself was unremarkable but still so very quintessential South America that it would be a worthy brief stopover even without its famed salt mine. Actually, if you were heading north by bus and this was a lunch break, it would be perfect with its plaza and cathedral providing a nice backdrop. But the cathedral that everyone does in fact come to see is the salt cathedral in the mine we had come to visit. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)
Zipaquira is an easy day trip from Bogota - it is about 50 kilometres north of the city, which means rougly 50 minutes by car. Zuipaquira means the Land of the Zipa and in the past Zipa was the king of this territory of Curdinamarca.
It is a beautiful colonial town of about 70000 inhabitants, it is surrounded by lush valleys and green fields and it's famous for the Salt Cathedral - which is basically an underground church built inside a salt mine on the flank of a mountain.
Fondest memory: Needless to say, the Salt cathedral is stunning, with its salt-carved via crucis and naves. hroughout the long tunnel descending into the mountain, salt crosses illuminated by green, purple and blue lights make it quite a sight to behold. Well worth the trip, but if you can, try to leave early in the morning, so as to have enough time to enjoy the beautiful town, too. Our visit there, unfortunately, was a bit rushed.
Favorite thing: The terrain of the salt cathedral is huge. As it is located somewhere uphil of the city of Zipaquirá, you can relax, have some drink and enjoy the view of the city.
inside the salt mountain dominating the city,a huge cathedral was carved out of the solid salt!
possible to visit it every day....