Known as “the most beautiful church in the world”, Santuario de Las Lajas is located in the municipality of Ipiales, in the Nariño Department. This place has been visited by pilgrims from all around the world since the XVII century.
The sanctuary has become one of the most important Colombian tourist attractions, not only because of its architecture, but also thanks to its location: inside the Canyon of the Guáitara River. The church is built inside an abyss, which is why people call it as a miracle of God over an abyss.
The history of the sanctuary starts with a miracle. The legend says that one day, a woman and her daughter were walking by the Canyon of the Guáitara, when a heavy storm made them stop. Right there, they saw the figure of La Virgen de Las Lajas. In that moment, the daughter, who was born mute and deaf, was cured.
The miracle was told in the village, and soon enough people from all over the region started to visit the place. Finally, in 1915, a little chapel was built to commemorate the miracle, and it became the sanctuary it is today.
After the sanctuary was built, the government in Colombia declared the Santuario de Las Lajas a cultural patrimony of the nation. Later on, in 2006, it got second place on the list of wonders in Colombia.
To get to the village of Las Lajas you must travel to the airport of Pasto, called ‘San Juan de Pasto´. From there, you can hire a private car that can get you to the cable car station.
You can always hire a private car service, or take a taxi, to get directly from Pasto to Ipiales. The ride will take about 2 hours. You can also get to the sanctuary by the same means and park your car there. Still, you have to take 200 steps down to enter the church.
The Santuario de Las Lajas is located 10 kilometers from the Colombia-Ecuador border, 7 kilometers from Ipiales, and 80 kilometers from the city of San Juan de Pasto.
Due to the impact this monument have had on tourism, it became necessary to create different means of transport that could help tourists to get there. That is why, in 2015, a cable car was built with the purpose of facilitating access to the sanctuary.
After you reach the cable car, you can enjoy a 15-minute ride, while you ascend 1500 meters. Take into account that if you use this service, you will still have to take 100 steps down to get inside the church.
This is one of the most important monuments of the church. Not only has it given life to the sanctuary, but it has also become a symbol on its own. So, when you get to admire the Virgin, pay attention to the jewels that the statue has, as well as the crown, which is full of gold, gems, sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, and pearls.
While you are there, you can also go to the museum. Created in 2000, this place holds an art collection of different pre-Columbian objects, books, and documents from the time the church was built, as well as plenty of religious art from the region. It also displays objects found in the area when building the church.
One of the most important aspects of this monument is the architecture. The church has a neo-Gothic style that fits in perfectly with its location over the canyon. It is a mix of mystery and natural beauty that will astound you.
Without a doubt, the Santuario de Las Lajas is one of the best places to visit in Colombia. So, what are you waiting for?
If you need help or guidance with the planning process of your trip to Colombia, don´t hesitate to contact us. We have a team of travel experts looking forward to help you have the best holiday of your life.