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article imageArt and devotion at the Cathedral of Salt of Zipaquirá Special

By Igor I. Solar     Jul 3, 2011 in Travel
Zipaquir - A place that started as a small sanctuary for salt miners to pray before starting their daily labour was developed into an 8500-square-metre underground architectural work which Colombians consider one of the wonders of the world.
The Cathedral of Salt is located next to the town of Zipaquirá in the central highlands of Colombia, about 50 kilometres from Bogotá. The work at the salt mine was started in the V Century by the Muiscas, the aboriginal inhabitants of the region, and continued firstly in an artisanal fashion since the XI Century, and later on, about 400 years ago, it was developed to an industrial scale.
As the operation escalated and huge quantities of salt were removed, large pillars, tunnels and chambers were created, some of them as wide as 100 metres square and 25 meters high.
The workers involved in the exploitation of the salt mine were faithful devotees of the Virgin of the Rosary naming her their protector. As fervour increased, they proposed using the large empty caverns to build a cathedral, a shrine to the Virgin. The initiative was backed by the national bank (Bank of the Republic). The conversion of the mine into a religious structure was directed by Colombian architect José María González Concha. González ensured the stability and safety of the tunnels and the walkways, the steps and 14 smaller chapels for the Stations of the Cross, the large pillars, the three huge naves and the altars. A fantastic lighting system enhances the beauty of the chambers.
Crosses carved in halite (rock salt) adorn illuminated  passageways in the Cathedral.
Crosses carved in halite (rock salt) adorn illuminated passageways in the Cathedral.
Nativity statues in an illuminated cave at the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá.
Nativity statues in an illuminated cave at the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá.
This religious place, with its main hall located about 200 metres underground, is not an official diocesan Cathedral, but in its interior there is a rich art collection including, salt and marble sculptures within a setting of deep religious feeling which attracts Colombians and international visitors.
The new Salt Cathedral opened in 1995 and is located about 60 meters deeper than the original sanctuary of the miners. It is considered one of the main architectural and artistic achievements of Colombian engineering. The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is one of the most representative religious places of Colombia. In 2007, it was named the No.1 Wonder of Colombia competing for the spot with another magnificent location, the Military Architecture at Cartagena de Indias. The Salt Cathedral was also proposed among the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Artwork in the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is exquisitely illuminated
Artwork in the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is exquisitely illuminated
Many angels and other religious figures adorn the chapels of the Salt Catedral.
Many angels and other religious figures adorn the chapels of the Salt Catedral.
Impressive wood-carved crucifix set on glass nailed to the salt wall at the Salt Cathedral of Zipaqu...
Impressive wood-carved crucifix set on glass nailed to the salt wall at the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá.
The Cathedral and the Park of Salt where the mine is located, receives about 40 thousand Colombians and 10 thousand foreign tourists each month. More than 13 million visitors from around the world have visited the Cathedral.
Marble scuplture The Creation of Man  by Colombian artist Carlos Enrique Rodríguez Arango (1949-) i...
Marble scuplture"The Creation of Man" by Colombian artist Carlos Enrique Rodríguez Arango (1949-) inspired by the work of Michelangelo (1475- 1564). The artwork in located on the floor at the entrance of the central nave of the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá.
Oldaza
Detail of  Creation of Man  Homage to Michelangelo  sculpture carved in marble by the Colombian arti...
Detail of "Creation of Man, Homage to Michelangelo" sculpture carved in marble by the Colombian artist Carlos Enrique Rodriguez Arango.
Wall carvings at the entrance of the Cathedral at Zipaquirá show figures of workers toiling in the ...
Wall carvings at the entrance of the Cathedral at Zipaquirá show figures of workers toiling in the salt mine.
More about Salt Cathedral, Zipaquirá, Colombia, Religious Art, Tourist attraction
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