If you are in the need of a miracle, look no further. Spanning one gorgeous gorge sits the neo-Gothic Santurio de Las Lajas, an other-worldly sight especially at night. Though the original church in this spectacular location was built in 1803, this lovely incarnation dates back to the early mid-1900s and took nearly 20 years to complete. Certainly, its stunning location had something to do with the lengthy construction time but make no bones about it, this is one church where setting and architecture vie for top honors in just why you came. To be honest, this is the reason why we came to the far south of Colombia in the first place and though we found a few gems along the way, we were not disappointed with Las Lajas though the “town” that is its gateway leaves a lot to be desired.
To be honest, Las Lajas is most easily done as a day trip from Ipiales but that town does not look nearly as appealing as Pasto which seems a tourist paradise in comparison! It could be done as a fairly long day trip from Pasto but be prepared for a two hour trip in each direction.
We decided to spend the night there and the moral of that story along with details on how to reach the sanctuary are revealed in my short page on Las Lajas.
Laguna de la Cocha is perhaps the top sight of Pasto. It's not exactly in Pasto, being a 45 minute taxi ride away but it certainly considered a must see by all Colombians visiting the city, and for good reason. With a backdrop of rolling green hills, this miss-enshrouded gem features an idyllic island perfect for boat excursions. The town is very touristy but in a charming way and though it can surely become overrun, it is entirely by Colombians and perhaps a few stray Ecuadorians escaped from just over the border. So, this is not a gringo-laden place to grab banana pancakes and if you are looking for a real slice of Colombia, this is it.
It's easy to reach from Pasto via share taxi which will set you back 3500 COP ($1.75) per person. We were in a hurry and it was during the week so we opted to take the “whole” thing for 15,000 ($7.50). Once in “town” you can jump on a shared boat out to Isla Corota, the price depends a bit on how many people are in the boat. We paid 5000 COP ($2.50) each round trip. It was good fun and our boatmates quite enjoyed having a few gringos to chat with en route and on the island.
More details on this great day trip on my Laguna de la Cocha page.
Two other churches seen only passingly en route to the Plaza de Bomboná market were Iglesia Felipe Neri and Iglesia de San Andrés. Neither was open when we passed so I cannot on the interiors. The latter was a simple brick church largely in the Romanesque style though there are other influences as is typical of the churches of Pasto. A church has stood in this location since the mid-1500s but the current version was built in the early 1900s.
Iglesia de San Felipe Neri was more interesting with its turquoise trim and imposing dome. Though a simple church existed here in the early 1700s, the current more ornate one dates back to the late 1800s and was built in the Renaissance style. Its towers are some of the tallest in Pasto and can be seen from a distance if high enough and its interior is said to feature a Gothic style pulpit.
San Andrés: Calle 16 & Carerra 28
San Felipe: Calle 12 & Carrera 27