WTF Fun Fact 13433 – The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

If you crave a journey into the depths of the Earth to experience nature’s wonder, head to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá in Colombia. This marvel lies 200 meters (over 600 feet) underground in a former salt mine. And it’s an awe-inspiring symbol of spiritual devotion and architectural brilliance.

Visiting the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

Picture this – you descend into the belly of the Earth. You’re greeted by a long, shadowy tunnel, illuminated by the soft glow of strategically placed lighting. Now, you’ve reached the start of the “Via Crucis”, the Stations of the Cross. Each one represented through imposing sculptures carved directly from the salt. These artworks in themselves offer a mesmerizing spectacle, adding gravitas to the sacred pilgrimage through the mine.

As you journey deeper, you’re led to an expansive cavern. Here, the salt rocks yield to the Cathedral’s majestic centerpiece – a massive cross stretching up toward the ceiling. This 16-meter-tall monolith of salt illuminated from behind. It casts a mystical aura, offering an awe-inspiring sight that leaves visitors marveling at the artistry and devotion it represents.

An active place of worship

The Cathedral is not just a sight to behold, but also a beacon of local culture. In fact, the salt mine has supported the people of Zipaquirá for centuries, its economic significance evolving into spiritual importance with the construction of the cathedral. Today, it continues to be a vibrant place of worship where faith resonates in every salt-strewn corner.

Further adding to its uniqueness, the Cathedral’s acoustics have also been leveraged for musical performances, its echoes amplifying the harmonious notes and making the music a truly immersive experience. Here, the hymns aren’t just heard but felt, resonating with the spirit of the cathedral.

Despite its spiritual significance, the Cathedral also caters to secular tourists. A light show illuminates the cathedral, and a guided tour offers insights into its geological and architectural aspects, emphasizing its universal appeal. It’s a journey of discovery, an exploration of human ingenuity in harnessing nature, and a celebration of the enduring power of faith.

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Source: “Colombia’s Salt Cathedral Is A Marvel Of Architecture And A Popular House Of Worship” — NPR

WTF Fun Fact 12755 – The Caño Cristales, Colombia

The Caño Cristales is a river in Colombia that some call the “Liquid Rainbow.”

But before you start planning a trip to the Colombian National Park of La Macarena, you should know that it’s rare to see all of these colors together. For the most part, the river looks red.

What causes the colors of the Caño Cristales?

The water of the river is actually crystal clear. It’s what lies beneath that brings the river to life – quite literally.

The Caño Cristales lies at the center of three distinct ecosystems, so it’s hard for flora or fauna to thrive there. But one organism has managed to get the hang of it –

is quite clear due to a lack of biodiversity. The colors are caused by red algae called Macarenia clavigera that cling to the rocks beneath and reflect different hues depending on the depth of the water and time of year.

Care for a visit to Caño Cristales?

If you do want to visit the Caño Cristales, it’s most colorful during the algal bloom and will turn red from late May and late November, but the peak time to see the colors is between July and October.

But you cannot visit alone – it’s just too hard to get to. You’ll need a guide for the park. You also cannot swim or be anywhere near the river if you’re wearing sunscreen or any body cream, since it may kill the algae.

But according to Culture Trip, “In spite of that, there is a lot more to see and do on a tour to Caño Cristales than just seeing the red river. The river itself is located alongside the huge La Macarena National Park, which is a vast area home to savannahs, incredible rock formations, jungles, and bird and mammal watching. Most tours last three to four days and take in a variety of sights.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “10 Things to Know Before Visiting Caño Cristales, Colombia” — The Culture Trip