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Sights and sites visited by a single man exploring the world at human speed.
|Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2014-12-18 18:16:43 | Zipaquira, Cundinamarca, Colombia|
Keywords: , church, mine
|This morning, I went to visit what will probably become a new inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list in the next few years. North of Bogotá, there is a region where they had salt mine for over 500 years now. There was a proposition to add that region to the UNESCO list in 2012 and I believe it will become reality in the next few years. I specifically went to visit the salt cathedral in the town of Zipaquira. That underground church has been nominated the first wonder of Colombia, so I believe the government will do all they can to push this site onto the World Heritage. |
The church is HUGE
and is nicknamed 'Cathedral' because of its sheer size. Although it
is a Catholic church, it is not a religious cathedral (no bishop).
This second church on the site has been opened about 20 years ago,
after the first one was condemned for structural fails putting
visitors in danger. The first church was constructed on the first
level of mine exploration (near the top of the mountain), while this
second one is one level below. It's very possible the mining in the
second level caused instability in the structure of the church above.
One of the stations.
They extracted lots
of salt (like 250 millions tons) of salt from this second level and
they couldn't do more without risking the stability of upper level.
Then they converted the main paths leading into the mine into
Stations of the cross path building niches... leading to 3 major
naves where there are actual mass celebrations every day.
The structure is
really impressive and the few pictures here don't do it justice in
any way. It's one of the most visited tourist attractions of the
country and being in there will render anyone speechless even if,
like myself, they are there just for the architectural aspect. There
are 'holes' that are over 200 m long, others that are over 50 m high. It's well lit and there are impressive pieces of art in many locations.
One breath-taking sculpture made of a wall of salt.
Since we enter by
the side of the mountain, we barely go down by 30 metres (100 feet)
or so, but we are in fact 180 m (595 feet) below the surface. The
mine is still active, with two other levels underneath being in
operation. On the location of the cathedral, there's a lot of other
activities to do, including museums about archaeology and the mining
operations and even a climbing wall!
The proposed UNESCO
site doesn't include only the church, but three salt mines areas
around the church. As I said, it's considered the jewel of Colombia,
so they will push it hard... and there's a precedent in Poland where
another salt mine complex has been re-purposed and it has been added
to the UNESCO list. In 2012, Colombia submitted this site along with
many others... I'm confident at least 2 of them will make the list in
the next few years.
Sanctuary Las Lajas
Cathedral of León
Early16th century monasteries
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