Those silly Christians. As if there weren’t enough churches in inconvenient places, they decided to build one 180 metres underground in a disused salt mine. In this particular case, the original one was closed in 1992 due to safety concerns and the current one in use today was built in a different mine thereafter. The salt cathedral is the centrepiece of a large planned park on a sloping hillside overlooking the town of Zipaquira, about 35km north of Bogota.
Getting to the salt cathedral by public transport is actually quite easy. Take the Transmilenio to Portal Norte, then hop on a minibus to Zipaquira on the other side of the platform. It’s that simple. Tell the bus conductor that you want to go to the salt cathedral (cathedral de sal) and he’ll let you know when you get off. It’s worth noting that you can catch the bus back to Bogota on the other side of the road where you get dropped off. From the drop off point you can either walk or take a taxi. The walk takes you through the historic centre of the town and is quite pleasant. There is a slight incline from the entrance of the park to the salt mine entrance and since it’s at altitude some people get winded. Make sure you bring some water, the air inside the salt mine is very dry and I found myself getting very thirsty even though the path inside the mine is very gently sloped.
As of last week, the entrance fee is 20000 pesos (~ US$12) and includes a guide. I didn’t realize the fee included a guide so I toured the mine on my own. The displays leading up to the main hall were ok, but it wasn’t until I laid eyes on the main bit that I was truly wowed. The main hall boasts the biggest underground cross in the world and is lit in an eerie blue light. For this alone, it’s worth the trip.
If you’re into souvenirs, there is a corridor devoted to all things touristy right next to the main hall. Snacks, emeralds, t-shirts, statuettes made of salt, the works. There are a couple of nature walks, a food court, a rock climbing wall, and a salt mining museum on the grounds as well.