The Salt Cathedral, first wonder of Colombia

Known as the first wonder of Colombia, The Salt Cathedral is a unique sanctuary in the world. 180 meters underground is located one of the most imposing churches that can be seen.

This amazing cathedral is located at the “Parque de la Sal” (The Salt Park), in the municipality of Zipaquirá, 48 kilometers away from Bogotá. This is definitely an unforgettable destination for any tourist visiting the capital of Colombia.

Why salt mountains?

The origin of the salt mountains belongs to the Cretaceous period, when this area was occupied by a sea that was enclosed. After the process of evaporation of the water, there were large deposits of salt that mixed with the ground, solidifying and transforming into large rocks of very high saline content.

As a result of this, the salt mixed with other minerals and the continuous leaks of water drag in sodium chloride and caused saline outcrops of an intense white color, scientifically known as “stalactites” and “stalagmites”.


In 1932, Luis Angel Arango, director of the Bank of the Republic, impressed by the devotion that the workers manifested before beginning their working day (who adorned the streets with images of saints to whom they implored protection), had the idea of ​​building an underground chapel. The construction task was entrusted to the architect José María González.

The Salt Cathedral was located at the second level of the mountain. The Basilica had a length of 120 meters, a living surface of 5,500 m² and a height of 22 meters. Inside they were built 6 columns, each with a base of 80 m², with enough room to accommodate 8,000 people.

At the bottom of the basilica, you could see a large wooden cross, illuminated from its base that projected on the ceiling a shadow that symbolized Christ with open arms. This cathedral however was closed for structural failures.

The construction of the current Salt Cathedral began in 1991, 60 meters below the old Cathedral. The Institute of Industrial Development, the Salinas Concession and the Society of Architects opened an architectural contest in order to choose the best design for the new and improved Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá.

The project of the architect Roswell Garavito Pearl won the contest. His proposal included structural changes at the entrance tunnel, the dome and the sacristy. The new structure was inaugurated in December of 1995. The design comprises the following three main sections: 1) The Viacrucis, 2) The Dome and 3) The Ships.


Unique experiences

When you take the tour at this wonder place, you will see the central square displaying a cross of 4.20 meters high, the mine, the salt dome, the reservoir and a beautiful forest area.

Another wonder that tourists enjoy is the Museum of the Brine, this place contains tanks and pump rooms of saturation processes and dissolution of the rock of salt, as well as a very wide explanation about the process of salt exploitation and the engineering history of the Salt Cathedral.

If by now you are curious to witness this magical wonder with breathtaking structures, you can’t miss the opportunity to visit the Salt Cathedral, where nature, religion and science meet.

If you are planning to travel around Colombia and you want to embrace this incredible culture, you should take a Spanish course. Being able to speak with locals could take your experience to another level, and Centro Catalina Spanish School offers you exactly what you need.

The best learning methods, a dynamic team of professional teachers and students from all over the world in a friendly atmosphere are just a part of what you will find in our schools. We are located in Cartagena and Medellín, two of the main cities of Colombia. For more information please visit


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