Las Lajas Church: a brief description of Colombia’s wonder of the world

Basilica of Las Lajas – Colombia’s wonder of the world

The Basilica of Las Lajas is Colombia’s wonder of the world. The openwork temple, as if made of lace, was built on the sheer wall of a high cliff not on the whim of a madman.

Las Lajas Basilica - Colombia's Wonder of the World

When in the 18th century the face of Our Lady appeared on the stone here, people reached for the place, feeling its mystical power. People prayed frantically at the miraculous image. Already then the healing of the sick began.

Las Lajas Basilica - Colombia's Wonder of the World

Later, a modest temple was built on the spot, and its main attraction was a picture on the rock, now revered as an icon. An altar was arranged in that place.

Las Lajas Basilica - Colombia's Wonder of the World

The stony gray wall enhances the awe-inspiring perception of the sacred countenance.

Las Lajas Basilica - Colombia's Wonder of the World

The image of the Virgin is not big at all, about one meter in height. It is currently decorated with stones, flowers and gilding. The Cathedral of Las Lajas, which has been rebuilt three times, acquired its present appearance in 1948;

Las Lajas Basilica - Colombia's Wonder of the World

A 30-meter arched bridge over the rocky ravine was built at the same time.

Las Lajas Basilica - Colombia's Wonder of the World

Its Gothic spires can be seen from afar.

Las Lajas Basilica - Colombia's Wonder of the World

The road to Las Lajas is carved into the rock. Almost its entire length, the rocky wall is hung with plaques of gratitude for the healing of ailments. Perhaps this is not in vain, and who, if not ordinary people know about it better than scholars?

Las Lajas Basilica - Colombia's Wonder of the World

This holy place with the miraculous image is near the town of Ipiales, almost on the border with Ecuador. The temple is not in a very convenient location, but people have managed to turn the overgrown gorge into a park with paths, recreation areas, springs and flower beds.

Las Lajas Basilica - Colombia's Wonder of the World

From the opposite wall of the gorge falls modest, but high waterfalls. And the Guaitara River flows through the bottom of its canyon in its pristine form.

Las Lajas Basilica - Colombia's Wonder of the World

The day I flew from Moscow to Bogot√°, I went there immediately. It took me a day to get there. I think that was the reason why I did not meet any like-minded people there). There were only pilgrims everywhere. Although I can say that I did meet some old acquaintances in purple cloaks from the Guambianos Indians who live on their reservation near the Sylvia settlement. Five years ago I had visited them, and I was touched by the childlike naivety and simplicity of these people. I had no idea that the cathedral’s feast day at Las Lajas would have me meet the Guambianos and that we would walk together in procession through the sacred grounds of the temple. It was September 16.

Las Lajas Basilica - Colombia's Wonder of the World

It was on this day in 1774 that the divine image on the rock manifested itself. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

When I arrived, I exchanged my dollars for Colombian pesos right at the airport. Remembering my last visit to Colombia, I already knew that it is not easy to change money in the country, it is better to have the necessary amount for the entire period of stay. Of course, you have to choose the best exchange rate, it varies here. I got the following: $1 = 2,860 Colombian pesos. After that, you need to buy a bus card to travel in Bogota city transport. Just in front of 7 – 8 entrances of the airport there is an employee of this service. He sells and charges the cards for the number of trips you need. The card itself costs 5,000 pesos (about $2) and each trip costs 2,000 pesos. I did all these manipulations quickly and took the P500 bus. It goes from the airport to the city center and passes near the central bus terminal. I had to go there, Bogota didn’t interest me this time, and I had to leave at night in the direction of the border with Ecuador in the city of Ipiales.

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Bogota has three main terminals: North (Norte), South (Sur) and Central (Central). From the central terminal, buses go in all directions. I went there on public transportation, and the bus passengers told me where to get off, and a helpful man took me to the terminal, even helping me carry my bag.

So the guy from the city bus took me to the central terminal. We walked about a kilometer through some confusing streets, but I should tell you right away that there is a more direct and shorter route. (I discovered it myself, when I returned to Bogota and went to the airport to fly to Panama.)

It was the middle of the day. Transportation in Colombia is excellent all over the country and fairly frequent. As I had planned, the bus to Ipiales left at night (110,000 pesos). It took 24 hours to get there. I was in a special happy state, knowing that in the morning I would see a Colombian expanse of absolutely breathtaking beauty.

All relatively large car terminals in Latin America have Wi-Fi. It’s usually either free, or the entrance is spelled out on a sign and hung on the wall. So the time until evening flew by quickly. To my delight, it turned out that all long-haul buses have internet, it’s over 6 hours. But after a long flight I fell asleep instantly in the bus, there was nothing else to do. There were monitors in the back of the seats, and people were watching different movies, but I just wanted to sleep.

In the morning I saw Colombia! My love for it was off the charts. For five years I had been living with the anticipation of seeing this country. I couldn’t take my eyes off the window. The mountain road twisted in a ribbon of light somewhere down the hills as we climbed higher and higher. Yellow slopes alternated with green valleys. Lonely toy houses lurked in the forest glades. Rivers, gorges, and waterfalls were in abundance. The juiciness of the landscape itself intensified as we moved south. It was getting more and more beautiful, and my neck was clearly stiff. It was time to go online).

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The charger was in my backpack on the shelf. Here I should remind you that it is better to keep especially valuable things in hand all the way, if the bus follows with stops, but if it is straight, you can put it on the shelf. Frequent passenger changes can bring a lot of trouble and luggage will no longer be yours.

Our bus on a steep bends from side to side and I could not get up for my charger, then the young man next to me offered me his, and then said I could take it for myself. Of course I was surprised, and he told me an unpleasant story.

The guy is 23 years old. He went on a trip to Central America from his native Ecuador, where he is now returning. Crossing the border from Panama into Costa Rica. There were no shuttle buses. The police advised a cab, confidently stating that he was an acquaintance of theirs and worked in the border area all the time. There was another passenger in the car. This guy sat second and drove off. They took him to the steppe, put a machete to his throat and robbed him completely. Those two turned out to be the accomplices. They left him there and fled. The guy made it to the border in the evening. Those cops were gone, and there were others in their place. He filed a robbery report. They immediately started looking for the perpetrators and found one who wasn’t driving. He confessed to the robbery and blamed it all on the driver. The driver disappeared in an unknown direction. They managed to recover a jacket and a phone charger. Apparently, these were the only things the robber driver shared with his companion. The poor guy was given a certificate from the police so he could cross the border and return home. His father sent money for the journey. The whole thing happened on the fourth day after he left home. Now in Ipiales his relatives had to wait for him with a car to take him home. After all, it was only seven kilometers from there to the border.

Therefore, only shuttle buses should be used to get to and from all borders. I know Latin America well, I was robbed more than once, but still ran into trouble, only not in Colombia, but in Costa Rica. I’ll tell you about it in another thread.

Our bus stopped three times on the way to get something to eat and drink. Everyone got off and greedily pounced on the food. Hispanics in general eat a lot, as do Asians. I made do with what was in my bag, brought back from Russia. Dry sausage, “kiries without a rush,” and dry cookies were consumed on the road, or in moments of acute need.

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In Ipiales were already in the afternoon. I immediately got a room in the hotel with a loud name Hilton (25,000), which was located opposite the bus station and was the first in my field of vision. I wasted no time and was perfectly able to catch a trip to the amazing Cathedral of Las Lajas, seven kilometers away from the city. Go there by a collective (2,500 pesos) until 8 pm, it is similar to our shuttle buses. With me was traveling with a pure Indian family, from them I learned that in the vicinity of the cathedral there are hostels much cheaper than in Ipiales. It was tempting to stay there, but a break from the bus station was not convenient for me, so I did not change anything.

Everyone is free to choose for themselves the best solution to the issue. Maybe no one needs to go to Las Lajas at all but me, but let the information be!

Las Lajas Church: a brief description of Colombia’s wonder of the world

Colombia is an amazing country, striking the beauty of landscapes and unique sights. One of the monuments of history, cultural heritage is located near a town called Ipiales. Las Lajas is a unique church, not as famous as, for example, the Eiffel Tower, but admirable for its uniqueness and originality.

Where is it

Cathedral of Las Lajas is located in Colombia, almost on the border with Ecuador. The nearest town is the land and air border port of Ipiales. The church is located only 7 km. from it and 10 km. from the border posts.

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Where is it

The historic site is known as the most beautiful church in the world. It seems that the cathedral was built directly on the bridge spanning the gorge. From this bridge there is a stunning view of the Guaitara River. The Church of Las Lajas is a complex that includes both man-made and natural attractions.

The canonical coronation from the Vatican took place in 1951. A few years later, the Cathedral was proclaimed a Basilica .

Interesting fact : For many years in this place people get rid of even the most severe diseases. Scientists and researchers cannot explain how it happens. Due to the huge number of healings, the church is considered one of the wonders of the world of Colombia.

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Where is it

Mystical Legends

In ancient times, the site where the church stands today was considered cursed . It was bypassed. People believed that this was where evil spirits lived and bad mystical events took place.

But in 1754 there was an event that changed everything dramatically. The legend is associated with two girls – the Indian Maria and her deaf and dumb daughter. The woman wanted to bypass the mystical place. However, because of the bad weather was forced to hide in a cave, which people are afraid to even think about.

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The curious girl almost immediately found something that simply could not be in the cursed place – a petroglyph of the Virgin Mary. And it was at that moment that Mary’s daughter spoke and heard her first words. A few years later, however, she died due to a serious illness .

But again a miracle happened. Indian Mary could not survive her daughter’s death. She prayed daily, asking the Virgin Mary to revive the child. And the girl was resurrected. After this event, the cave was regularly visited by pilgrims. Since then, there was always someone healing in the place.

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Mystical Legends

Construction of the Basilica

The Church of Las Lajas did not appear immediately. At first, a modest chapel was built next to the cave so that any pilgrim who wished could turn to Our Lady and ask for healing.

There were too many people wishing to visit the place. That is why the Colombian authorities decided to erect two churches. One appeared in 1796 and the second in 1853. And a few decades later, Bishop Pasto Esquel Moreno y Dias voiced the idea of building one large Cathedral. Famous architects of the time – Lucindo Espinosa and Gualberto Perez – worked on the creation of the main attraction of Colombia.

Exterior of the Basilica

The church of Las Lajas looks beautiful . It has rightly earned the title of “Colombia’s Wonder of the World.” The Neo-Gothic cathedral is shaped like a castle perched above a rushing river. It feels as if the structure is not standing on the ground but hovers above the ravine.

All sorts of towers, magnificent arches, windows, decor – through all this there is a feeling of striving upwards. And the bridge only complements the complex, makes it unique and inimitable.

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Exterior of the Basilica

Las Lajas Cathedral was rebuilt several times. It got its final look only in 1948. At the same time, the builders finished work on the bridge, so that everyone could safely get to the wonderful complex.

The church is a symbol of peace between Ecuador and Colombia. Both the Colombian and Ecuadorian congregations serve at the same time. The main purpose of the Basilica is the unique, dignified framing of the main shrine, found back in 1754 by a deaf-mute girl. Many worshippers do not visit the site to admire the “Colombian wonder of the world” . They want to worship the miraculous icon.

Description of the interior

The Cathedral of Las Lajas impresses not only because of its exterior but also because of its interior. The main attraction is the rocky surface where the face of the Virgin Mary can be seen. The icon is on the back wall, which is also a rock. The architects had never even thought of touching or altering it.

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Description of the interior

In the central room you can admire the columns and the magnificent stained glass windows . The walls, which are not associated with the image of the Virgin Mary, are plastered.

In ancient times, the Colombian and Ecuadorian communities tried to decorate the altar part of the rock with gold and jewels . However, everything of value was stolen. Servants restored the decorations several times. But then it was decided that there should be no decorations at all. Only the gilding and flowers were left.

What to see

The icon on the rock is the main relic of the Colombian church . Many tourists come to see the image of the Virgin Mary with the baby. Standing next to them are Francis and Dominic. The image has never been restored. But in 250 years, it hasn’t changed a bit.

So why do people want to see the icon so badly? There are legends that Our Lady is able to heal all diseases and addictions. And the stone tablets of gratitude prove it. There are several hundred of them.

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What to see

The icon has never been restored . But the faces of the saints and the crowns were added after the construction of the temple. The image of Our Lady itself is striking in its clarity. It’s hard to believe that the employees have never restored the image.

Interesting fact: Scientists still can’t figure out when the image appeared. The composition of the paints, the technology of applying the image, the author of this masterpiece – all this is a mystery. According to researchers, the image remains clear and crisp, because the coloring agents penetrate the rock more than 1m deep . There is no technology with which to achieve such a result.

How to get there

The church of Las Lajas is located 7 km. from Ipiales. You can get here with the help of travel agencies from Bogota. You will have to spend about 16 hours on the way. For the ticket you have to pay about 30 dollars.

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How to get there

You can get to Las Lajas from Ipiales by ordering a cab . There are regular shuttles and shuttle buses that pass by the temple. Transportation stops within a 20-minute walk of the Colombian landmark. Along the way, you can buy all sorts of souvenirs .

You can visit the church in any clothing . There is no dress code. The trip should be abandoned during Catholic holidays, when Las Lajas is visited by pilgrims. There are a lot of them. You just can not see the icon, being in the crowd.

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