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Sights and sites visited by a single man exploring the world at human speed.
|Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2015-01-27 16:59:06 | Ipiales, Narino, Colombia|
Keywords: , attraction, church
|My last stop in Colombia was to visit a spectacular church. I do visit churches along the way, especially cathedrals in national capitals, by curiosity for architecture, but I never report about them. This church however is special, because of the architecture and its incredible location. It's a fairly new church, completed in 1949, but its setting at the bottom of a narrow valley is spectacular. The location also had some other churches for more than 250 years now.|
The Sanctuary of Las
Lajas is a church totally financed by the local church goers and it
was built at the location of an apparition of the Virgin Mary of the
Rosary by an indigenous mother and her daughter in 1754. Since they
were trying to protect themselves from a storm using the large slabs
of rocks coming out from the sides of the canyon, the place was named
Las Lajas (the slabs).
Right after the
apparition, people began to come to that place and a chapel, then a
church was built. A century ago, they began a campaign to finance
the very impressive church presently in place (began construction in
1916. By visiting the area, you can only admire the importance of
the work done, especially considering the location!
Aerial front view of the church.
The construction is
over 100 m (330 feet) high in total considering the bridge and the
church. The bridge is half of that height and is a remarkable
achievement by itself. As you go down the access ramp to reach the
church mid-way to the canyon, you pass by thousands of plaques
thanking the Virgen for miracles and curing illnesses.
The church is
located about 7 km from the border city (with Ecuador) of Ipiales,
and it's probably the only reason to stop in Ipiales besides trying
cuy (barbecued guinea pig) instead of going through the border
directly. Transportation is very easy with collective taxis leaving
the Ipiales bus terminal.
impressive interior of the church and its surroundings (with many
waterfalls), you can also go below the church and visit a museum.
Part of the museum explains the construction of the church and the
rest is about the indigenous people of the area, mostly before the
arrival of the Spaniards.
The church received
the denomination of sanctuary in 1951, giving it a special status
within the Catholic church. It was also declared national treasure
by the Colombian government in 1984. In 2007, a survey from a
Colombian newspaper classified it as 2nd of the 7 wonders
of Colombia (#1 being the Cathedral of salt, which I visited around
Bogotá in December).
I don't know if it
will be added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. It's not on the
tentative list so far, maybe a campaign for that will be started next
year with the centenary. Although it is an impressive construction,
I'm not sure it has enough distinction to make the list. I guess it
will all depend on how the Colombian government makes the case to the
Some of the grateful plaques dotting the path down.
Cathedral of salt
La Mitad del Mundo
Festival of lights
Cathedral of León
Early16th century monasteries
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