Photo Essay | Colombia’s Psychedelic Underground Salt Cathedral

by Stephanie Walsh · 10 comments

in Colombia, Photography, South America, Travels

The main chamber of the Salt Cathedral, from the ground with church benches lined all the way up to the altar

Yes, you read correctly. A Salt Cathedral…and a very psychedelic one at that!

This marble statue is one of the few things not carved from the salt in the Cathedral

This marble statue is one of the few things not carved from the salt in the Cathedral

The Salt Cathedral, about an hour outside of Bogotá in the lovely small town of Zipaquirá, is the most popular tourist destination in Colombia. People come from far and wide to visit the holy Catholic Cathedral; located 200 metres underground in a salt mine. On Sundays there can be over 3000 visitors to the site…so obviously don’t go on a Sunday as queues are always very long.

Entrance passageway into the Salt Cathedral…a sign of psychedlic things to come

Entrance passageway into the Salt Cathedral…a sign of psychedlic things to come

As it is so far underground, the Salt Cathedral is lit up by a range of coloured lights reflected onto various crosses, changing constantly from blue, red, green, purple etc., giving it a very psychedelic feel in my opinion. Known as the ‘Jewel of Modern Architecture’, the sheer vastness and skill that has gone into hand-carving the whole Cathedral is very impressive. Numerous times we heard distant rumblings that felt like the whole mine was caving in, until we asked and found out it was the sound of dynamite explosions in another part of the mine where salt miners were continuing to excavate.

PS: If you are visiting the Salt Cathedral, save yourself time and skip the lame film, presented by a ‘3D’ robot that they show in one of the caverns. Instead take a well-needed nap…

No, he's not praying…he's taking a nap 200 meters underground…in a Cathedral

No, he's not praying…he's taking a nap 200 meters underground…in a Cathedral

It is hard to describe accurately the bizarreness and yet, the beauty and tranquility of this place so I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking:

Multiple crosses overlook giant empty chambers, all illuminated colourfully

Multiple crosses overlook giant empty chambers, all illuminated colourfully

Illuminated red cross - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

Illuminated red cross - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

One of the many illuminated and eery giant chambers, empty and dark in the Salt Cathedral

One of the many illuminated and eery giant chambers, empty and dark in the Salt Cathedral

Andres and a giant red cross - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

Andres and a giant red cross - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

Me and the same giant cross…now green - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

Me and the same giant cross…now green - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

View of the main cross from the floor sculpture

View of the main cross from the floor sculpture

Floor sculpture of The Creation of Adam - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

Floor sculpture of The Creation of Adam - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

All of the Cathedral is constantly changing colours

All of the Cathedral is constantly changing colours

The higher chambers as seen from the ground of the main chamber - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

The higher chambers as seen from the ground of the main chamber - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

The main chamber in the Salt Cathedral

The main chamber in the Salt Cathedral

Me inside a hollow giant cross - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

Me inside a hollow giant cross - Salt Cathedral, Colombia

A waterfall of salt rocks pour out of an opening in the wall

A waterfall of salt rocks pour out of an opening in the wall

The walls of the Cathedral shine and glisten in the light

The walls of the Cathedral shine and glisten in the light

The salt in the walls is clearly visible in some parts of the mine

The salt in the walls is clearly visible in some parts of the mine

A place of prayer…people come and pray on the stone pews

A place of prayer…people come and pray on the stone pews

I don't even know what this is about...

I don't even know what this is about...

Just when we thought it couldn't get any stranger…we found this hidden, underground conference room

Just when we thought it couldn't get any stranger…we found this hidden, underground conference room

Well it is made of salt after-all

Well it is made of salt after-all

 

Would you visit this Salt Cathedral or do you think it is just another over-hyped tourist attraction?