The story of the Cathedral of Salt of Zipaquira is certainly one of persistence. The original cathedral was carved out of an active salt mine beginning in 1950. Inaugurated in 1954, the cathedral only lasted for 36 years before authorities, worried about its structural soundness, shut it down. This, however, did not deter the town of Zipaquira. In 1991, only a year after shuttering the old cathedral, work began on a new salt church some 200 feet below the old one. The current salt cathedral is roughly 75 meters long and 25 meters high, with a giant cross carved into the back wall. It can theoretically accommodate 10,000 people. Smaller naves dug out around the main chamber illustrate the life of Christ from birth to crucifixion.
These naves are known as “The Stations of the Cross.” They chronicle Jesus’ last journey. The walk takes you on the journey in chronological order. Each station has a different cross carved out of rock salt and kneeling platforms. Essentially, each station is a small chapel. While clearly devoted to Catholicism, the salt “cathedral” is not in fact recognized by the Church and has no official status. This doesn’t stop the 3,000-plus visitors that come to the cathedral on most Sundays from praising the glory of both God and his mineral-ensconced home.
Know Before You Go
It takes about two to three hours to tour the cathedral. It costs about $16 to enter, and the on-site museum is not included. You need a separate ticket for the museum. Often cold inside the cathedral, so have a cardigan or jacket in the event it’s too cold for you.