Discovering the Enchanting Las Lajas Sanctuary in Colombia: A Journey of Legend and Beauty
One of the best attractions for visitors on their way to Ipiales on the border between Ecuador and Colombia is the Sanctuary of Las Lajas.
Nestled in the heart of Colombia, the Las Lajas Sanctuary stands as a testament to both architectural brilliance and spiritual wonder. While many Ecuadorians living in the northern part of the country might be familiar with the journey to the city of Ipiales for shopping purposes, there is a hidden gem that often goes unnoticed – the captivating Las Lajas Sanctuary.
Most Ecuadorians living in the Northern part of the country have a tradition of making a trip to the city of Ipiales at least once a year, the main purpose being that of shopping.
We had done this trip several times with my family but had not stopped but recently in Las Lajas.
Las Lajas Sanctuary: A Marvel of Engineering and Artistry
Completed in 1949, the Las Lajas Sanctuary is a true marvel of engineering and design. This stunning cathedral is perched on a bridge that gracefully spans the Guaitara River, creating a breathtaking sight that captures the imagination. Among its most captivating features are the exquisite stained glass windows that adorn the sanctuary, casting vibrant hues of light and color upon the sacred space.
As you tread down the cobblestone path leading to this impressive cathedral, you’ll be greeted by an array of charming souvenir shops that offer a glimpse into the local culture and craftsmanship. The Las Lajas Sanctuary not only serves as a spiritual center but also as a haven for those seeking artistic inspiration and a connection to the past.
Unveiling the Legend: A Divine Encounter at Las Lajas
The Las Lajas Cathedral is steeped in a captivating legend that adds an air of mystique to its already awe-inspiring presence. According to local lore, the Virgin Mary herself is said to have visited a mother and her deaf-mute daughter during a ferocious storm. The divine encounter is believed to have occurred within the sanctuary’s hallowed walls, leaving an indelible mark on the site.
The legend takes an even more remarkable turn, as it is told that years after the daughter’s passing, the grieving mother returned to the sanctuary. To her astonishment, the Virgin Mary’s presence once again graced the sacred space, leading to the miraculous revival of her daughter. This profound tale continues to draw pilgrims and visitors from near and far, seeking a connection to the divine and a touch of the extraordinary.
About the Teleferico
I have not been there in recent years but I know that there is a Teleferico now taking you down to the Sanctuary and though it takes 30 minutes for the ride it allows you to take in magnificent vistas over this part of the Andes.
Embarking on the Journey: How to Reach Las Lajas from Quito
For those eager to embark on a pilgrimage to the Las Lajas Sanctuary, the journey begins in the bustling Ecuadorian capital of Quito. The closest major city on the Ecuadorian side is Tulcan, but for a more comprehensive travel experience, starting from Quito is recommended.
The journey from Quito to the border typically takes around five hours, offering travelers a chance to soak in the diverse landscapes and vibrant culture of the region. Once you reach the border, a brief hour-long passage awaits before you find yourself in Ipiales, the gateway to the enchanting sanctuary.
From the Ipiales bus terminal, you have the option of hopping on a colectivo for a short ride to the Las Lajas Cathedral. Alternatively, if you prefer a more direct route, a taxi can whisk you away to this architectural wonder, allowing you to immerse yourself in its grandeur without delay.
Interesting facts and information
- Visited by pilgrims from all over the world
- You will find several plaques along the way, they are made by families who have placed them there.
- The Las Lajas Sanctuary was declared the second wonder of Colombia in 2007.
- Three-hundred and twenty-eight feet separate the edge of the Guáitara River and the tip of the Las Lajas Sanctuary.
- The best spot for photography is the restaurant facing the cathedral.
A Fusion of Beauty, Legend, and Pilgrimage
The Las Lajas Sanctuary in Colombia is a convergence of beauty, legend, and pilgrimage that beckons the curious traveler and the devout seeker alike. With its ethereal architecture, captivating legend, and accessible journey from Quito, it has all the elements of a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you are drawn by the stories of miracles or simply wish to bask in the presence of artistic splendor, the Las Lajas Sanctuary promises a journey that transcends the ordinary and invites you into a realm of wonder.
So if you are planning on visiting Colombia or are wondering what to do in Ipiales, skip the city unless you want to do some shopping and go straight to Las Lajas.
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