Catedral de Sal Zipaquirá

Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá - Zipaquirá Salt Mine


Useful Information

Location: Zipaquirá is 49 km northwest of Bogotá.
(5.018797076670478, -74.009324607561210)
Open: All year daily 9-17:40.
[2021]
Fee: Adults COP 60,500, Children (4-12) COP 50,500, Seniors (60+) COP 50,500.
Groups: Adults COP 37,500, Children (4-12) COP 29,500, Seniors (60+) COP 29,500.
Combi Ticket: Adults COP 78,000, Children (4-12) COP 68,000, Seniors (60+) COP 68,000.
Groups: Adults COP 56,000, Children (4-12) COP 48,000, Seniors (60+) COP 48,000.
[2021]
Classification: MineSalt Mine SubterraneaCave Church
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:
Guided tours: D=60 min. Español - Spanish English
Photography:
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography:
Address: Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá, Carrera 6 Calle 1 - Zipaquirá, Cundinamarca, Tel: +57-1-852-2779. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

3 BC mine founded.
1801 visited by Alexander von Humboldt.
1932 miners carve their own underground church.
1950 begin of the construction of the cathedral.
1954 "Salt Cathedral" opened to the public.
1991 construction of a new cathedral was started.
1992 mining ended for safety reason.
16-DEC-1995 new cathedral opened to the public.

Geology

The salt deposits are evaporites which were formed 250 million years ago, during the late Permian and early Triassic. The salt reached the surface during the late Tertiary as a result of the uplift by the Andean orogeny.

Description

Reputed to date back to 3 BC, these mines have been extensively worked over the centuries, but vast reserves of salt still remain. Deep inside the mountain there is an underground "Salt Cathedral" which has been dug out of solid salt and was opened to the public in 1954. It was closed in 1992 for safety reasons, but a new chamber was excavated 60 m away and this opened for visitors in December 1995. It is 75 m long and 18 m high and will accommodate over 8000 people.


Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.

The Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá (Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá) is actually a catholic church, so the name is not just a tourist draw. Nut as there is no bishop, it is just a normal church, not a cathedral, despite the name. The church has three sections, representing the birth, life, and death of Jesus. It is rather young, it was built in 1991 inside the abandoned salt mine, but it has already become an important place of pilgrimage in the country. The church receives as many as 3,000 visitors on Sundays, Icons, ornaments and architectural details are hand carved into the halite rock. Some marble sculptures are used for decoration. But the cave church is also called the "Jewel of Modern Architecture", as it is considered one of the most notable achievements of Colombian architecture.

The salt mines were exploited by the pre-Columbian Muisca culture since the 5th century BC. It was most likely their most important economic activity.

Precursors of the cathedral are a church which was built by the miners in 1932 for their own use. They would use it for a prayer or a short service before or after shift. In 1950 the first cathedral was started, which was completed in 1954 and was big enough for 8,000 people. The current cathedral was started in 1991 and completed in 1995.

The first description of the mines is from Alexander von Humboldt, who visited Zipaquira on his journey through South America in 1801. He estimated the size of the deposit to one million cubic meters. He also criticized the excavation techniques as unpractical. He recommended drift mining, since the salt tunnels do not require beams, which lowers the costs.