Tacky? Perhaps a bit. Nice day trip from Bogota? Yes.
We were discussing our next days plans with a fellow backpacker. Upon mentioning the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, we were met with a bit of a “ugh, it’s meant to be a bit tacky isn’t it?”. Deciding that we’d rather see it and be tacky than not see it at all, we decided to continue with our plan. So is the Salt Cathedral of really tacky?
All in all we’d have to say yes. But wait! Don’t rule it out just yet! The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá (COP25,000) is an underground catholic church built into a salt mine. Whether you could actually consider it a church is up for debate given that there is no bishop. Opinions aside, the church is popular for many Colombian’s with a weekly pilgrimage made on Sundays. The cathedral is lit by coloured lighting and also sports a cafe and souvenir shops which is where the tacky reputation quite rightfully comes from.
In spite of all that, the Salt Cathedral is actually kind of fun to explore (ditch the tour guide at the start!). The dark paths lead up, down and around small spaces which lead to different rooms and areas of prayer.
The town of Zipaquirá is probably more enjoyable than the Salt Cathedral so make sure you allocate a bit of extra time for this. The town is to the left if heading away from the Salt Cathedral and has a nice pedestrian street filled with souvenir shops. A more mainstream shopping street runs across the pedestrian street. There is also an array of restaurants surrounding the streets of Monumento A Los Martires Park and Plaza de la Independencia.
Long story short, we would suggest a trip out to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá if you have a day to spare but don’t make this a must see.
Getting there from Bogota:
• If staying in La Candelaria make your way to Museo del Oro station and catch bus to Av. Jimenez (line J). Depart here.
• Next, take line A north until the end. We ended up going south and it got a bit sketchy so make sure you’re heading north.
• Switch onto line B until the end where you should depart at Portal Norte.
• At Portal Norte follow the signs saying “Zipaquirá”. Board one of these buses, the buses takes about 45 minutes as it heads out into the country. Ask to get off for the Salt Cathedral.
• You will be dropped on a main street and will have probably seen Salt Cathedral signs on the bus. If not, ask someone the direction, its an easy 15 minute walk.
• Total Cost: COP6000 per person, one way including all bus changes.