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  • Writer's pictureSanni & Gerri@

Bogotá: A church of salt and a divine pizza

Updated: Jan 15, 2022

13. to 14. November | German Version


Catedral de Sal

With the Transmilenio we make our way to Zipaquirá to visit the famous Salt Cathedral. The Transmilenio is a good alternative to Uber here. These modern buses have their own driving lane and are therefore quite fast. The bus stations are constructed like metro stations and in a kind of cage, which can only be accessed with a valid ticket. Accordingly, this public transport is safe. After approx. 3 hours, 50 km and a change of bus we reach our destination. Zipaquirá has about 100,000 inhabitants. The centre is a beautiful colonial old town with many alleys, lined with shops and restaurants around it. We pass the Plaza de Independencia with the Catedral Diocesana and then make our way to the ascent to the Catedral de Sal.

The salt cathedral is an underground, Catholic church in a former salt mine. The "Old Cathedral" (la Catedral Antigua) was built from 1950 to 1954. The workers of the salt mine should have the opportunity to pray before starting work. At that time, the cathedral was already 120 metres long and it was able to accommodate around 8,000 people. In 1991, the construction of the present cathedral began, the inauguration took place 4 years later. From an architectural point of view, one of Colombia's most important sights. It is located at an altitude of 2,652 metres, 180 m below the surface. In 2007, the building was proposed for the list of 7 wonders of the world, as it is the largest salt cathedral in the world. Therefore, Colombians are proud of this attraction and accordingly popular is this excursion, which is integrated into a complete theme park, the El Parque de la Sal. Already at the entrance we can see how many visitors were "handled" here before Corona. Numerous souvenir and fast food stalls provide the impression that several hundreds of thousand visitors pilgrimage here every year. Fortunately, the rush during our visit is somewhat limited.


Shortly after the entrance there is a light show. Normally, changing flags of the South American countries are depicted here. We only get the American flag presented, which irritates us a little.

After that, we pass the so-called Way of the Cross. It symbolises Jesus' physical suffering. There are different stations with knee benches, the crosses are illuminated differently. Some of them are cleanly worked out, others have hit the workers in the rock as negatives.

The Way of the Cross shows the huge dimensions of the cathedral and how much salt has been mined over time. The main attraction at the end of the Way is a large balcony that offers a view of the main nave. In the centre is the 16-metre-high, illuminated cross, which is hit into the salt as a negative. The interior walls of the cathedral are irradiated with changing colours. In the corridors to the actual cathedral there are some sculptures and a huge chandelier of salt.

In the end, we will be guided through a large commercial area. You can buy everything here - including souvenirs, figures made of salt, Esmeralda and of course oversized sombreros in the Colombian colour. Reflecting on this event, we have not decided whether the whole spectacle is impressive or just trashing. Let's agree on both. But the salt was at least real, we tested it!


 
Basically, everything big in the world returns even on a small scale if you just want to recognise it.

-Alexander von Humboldt -


During the past six weeks of our journey, we have been through so many great adventures and unique nature experiences. One highlight chases the other. Here in Colombia, too, we quickly realise that a new, very special time is waiting on us. But in addition to the big, spectacular events, we will always talk enthusiastically about the supposedly small ones. One of them is that with Carlos in his restaurant Pizza Candelaria.


It's a rainy evening, we feel like pizza and follow the recommendation of a hostel roommate. We first have trouble finding the pizzeria, a little off the other restaurants and are initially standing in front of an almost eponymous fast food pizza stall. In the end, however, we will find what we are looking for. When we enter, we are greeted directly heartly by the owner Carlos, who does not refrain from accompanying his guests personally to the table. Carlos also comes back to us personally for the order. After an interested chat about where we come from and what we do, we get a passionate explanation about what makes his pizzas and his dishes so special. From the homemade sauce to the love he puts in his own creations and recipes. We are already enthusiastic about the food when listening to him.


This feeling continues after the pizzas has arrived. Really quite great. How surprising that we eat one of the best pizzas ever in Colombia. The beer, Club Columbia, tastes great with the food and so we say goodbye to Carlos after a last little chat. Just two days later, we find ourselves in front of Pizzeria Candelaria again. Carlos' joy, when he sees us, can't be acted. He immediately takes a chair and sits with us at the table and we continue our great time of the first evening. Carlos presents us with all his pride this time: A Harley with which he takes a tour once a week, with his friends. He doesn't get to do it more often, because he is in the pizzeria every day, except Sundays, and the rest of this spare time he spends with his son. He asks us for a photo, which will also become one of our most beautiful travel photos.

For us, this meeting is the first connection to Bogotá. The way this man has defined hospitality. The joy that gives him what he does every day. The pride in what he has created. The love for Colombia, his country! And of course also the very good food. Simply an invaluable beautiful encounter.


So, if you happen to be in Bogota…

 

*The English version of this blog is supported by automated translation*

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