Holiday in Colombia (3): Zipaquira

Tuesday was a light day in terms of tourist sights since essentially we were travelling from the town of Villa de Leyva (which we left at 9 am) south to the capital city of Bogotá (which we reached at 5.15 pm).  We broke the journey three times: a comfort break where we had breakfast on Sunday, a salt mine just outside the town of Zipaquira, and lunch in Zipaquira itself.

The Zipaquira Salt Mine has been open since 1816 but, between 1992-1995, some $16M was spent to create a special tourist attraction. The Catholic miners have always had places of worship in the mine, but now there are modern versions of the 14 stations of the cross plus a so-called cathedral which is 25 metres high and can accommodate a staggering 8,400 people. 

The tunnel of salt mines is located 200 metres inside a mountain and visitors like us descend through a series of passage ways to a depth of 38 metres. We spent over an hour in this strange and moving subterranean world.  

Only once before have I seen anything like this when I visited a salt mine just outside Krakow in Poland. Here too Catholic miners have created a complex of chapels and a huge church. The Colombian version though was created by professionals and coloured lights, ecclesiastical music, and an elaborate gift shop make it a more commercial proposition. 

Bogotá is a sprawling and cosmopolitan metropolis with over 8 million inhabitants located an an altitude of 8,630 feet (2,630 metres) so the climate is cool. Our accommodation here is very different from that in Villa de Leyva. Atton Bogotá 93 is a large modern hotel of 139 rooms with all the facilities one would expect but none of the charm of the previous mansion.  


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