The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is an underground catholic church built 200 meters underground, inside a working salt mine. The salt mine is located deep in a Halite mountain just outside the small town of Zipaquirá, which warrants a quick walk/drive through for pictures or lunch after visiting the Salt Cathedral. Zipaquirá is located about a 30 minute drive from Bogotá, give or take 10 minutes depending on traffic (which can be horrendous). We visited as part of private tour of Bogotá, but you can easily visit on your own.
I went back and forth on whether to visit the Salt Cathedral when I visited Bogotá earlier this year. I didn’t want to visit it for religious purposes, but it did look pretty damn cool. In any case, I ended up visiting and it was very interesting, although I would not consider it a “must see” unless you are going for religious purposes. I would imagine that it holds more meaning then…
As mentioned, the Salt Cathedral is inside a mountain. The entrance to the salt mine is well-marked and very easy to find. Just follow all of the tour groups. Our licensed guide purchased our tickets (about $7 USD) and then led us right into the salt mine. If you go on your own, you will have to wait to enter until the next guided tour – basically an employee of the Salt Cathedral takes you around. Tours start about every 15 minutes, but you may have to wait longer for a tour in a language other than Spanish.
The entrance starts with a bizarre walk through some “high tech” lights and then proceeds through the 14 stages of the cross, ending with stunning views of the cathedral. Everything is carved our of the mountain and its really interesting to see. While I thought our guide was way over priced, he did add a lot of tidbits to the tour.
Once you get down to the cathedral level, you are free to walk around the chapel area and take lots of pictures.
After leaving the main chapel, there is a 3D video discussing the history of the area and mountains, which you are practically forced to watch. It was pretty interesting, although the 3D was not of the best quality. After the video, there are a number of stands selling souvenirs, including expensive jewelry, and some snacks. The salt mine also offers tours of the working salt mine, which I was told were legit and quite claustrophobic. Needless, to say, we skipped this.
In short, the Salt Cathedral was interesting to see and I think it is the only one of its kind in the world. If you have extra time in Bogotá, I would recommend it, but I would not recommend staying extra time or skipping another site in Bogotá to view it.
If you do decide to venture to the Salt Cathedral, it is on the way to Andres Carne des Res — the infamous party restaurant! It would make sense to combing visiting the cathedral and Andres Carne des Res in the same day trip, probably stopping at the Salt Cathedral first!
STEAL OUT TRIP
Salt Cathedral (Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá) – Useful website in English. Open daily 9:00 – 5:30. $20,000 Colombian pesos/person (about $7 USD). There is a church service held every Sunday. Check out the Salt Cathedral’s website for more information on attending that.
El tren de la sabana – Train running between Usaquén and Zipaquirá, among other towns. Website seems informative. We did not ride it.
Zipaquirá -Information on visiting the town of Zipaquirá.
Andre Carne des Res – Infamous restaurant on the same route out of Bogotá as Zipaquirá. Makes sense to combine the two into a day trip.