My name is Frank and I run a travel agency based in Bogota, Colombia. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please write them in our comments section. Thank you and have a great trip to Colombia!
The Church of Santuario de Nuestra Señora de las Lajas is located in the very south of Colombia and offers an incredible experience. It is also the second wonder of Colombia. But now, first things first.
Las Lajas is located in Ipiales, a border town in southern Colombia, about a 2-hour drive from Pasto. Pasto is the capital of the department Narino and is located in southern Colombia and bordering Ecuador. You can get to Pasto by plane from Bogota and from Pasto there are buses. It is even better to book a tour with a suitable guide. In Ipiales you can either park nearby and then walk through the town to the church. Or you can take the gondola and get to the station about 100 meters from the church. Important to note is that Ipiales is located at around 2,900 meters above sea level (9,510 feet above sea level).
What can you expect from Ipiales?
The small town of Ipiales is on a slope and the streets are sometimes steep. The whole village is geared towards tourism and it is interspersed with restaurants and souvenir shops. If the rush to the church is not too much, you can take a leisurely walk from one of the parking lots down to Las Lajas. The village is not particularly pretty, but has good sidewalks. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from the parkings lots to the church.
What to discover in the Las Lajas church?
Santuario de Las Lajas is a famous place of pilgrimage and the history is very interesting. The church as you can find it today was built at the beginning of the 20th century. However, it is said that in 1754 the locals Maria Mueses and their daughter discovered the image of the Virgen del Rosario and, in this context, the deaf and dumb daughter began to speak in this context.
The church is in a gorge and over a river. The monument is really impressive and does take believers’ and non-believers’ breath away alike. Personally, I can say that this is probably the most impressive church I have visited. Coming from the village, you descend the stairs behind the church and then come to the forecourt, which is of course ideal for photos. You can then go up the stairs on the other side, past food stalls, where you can also enjoy a wonderful view of the church and from where you can also take excellent photos. A drone can also be launched from there. However, there are some cables, so be careful.
You can visit the main nave of the church. Every time I went there was worship, I think the frequency is high. There is also an entrance on the side of the church, where you can either visit the museum or find other underground elements of the church. You can also confess there.
I think you can also go down to the river, but I haven’t been there yet. There is a path along the river, which was always closed during my visits. If you are flexible with the schedule, you should stay until dawn, because then an incredible play of lights begins and the cathedral is illuminated in various color combinations.
When and why should you visit Las Lajas?
The church of Las Lajas is an absolute highlight, the 2nd wonder of Colombia. Although Narino is not considered one of the main tourist destinations in Colombia, it is absolutely worth considering a trip because there is a lot to discover. If you decide to visit the department, Las Lajas is definitely a must. However, it is important to note that you do not travel on a Sunday or general holiday, during Holy Week or at Christmas. The expected crowds will definitely diminish the experience.
- Share your personal experience below in the comments so that other travelers also can profit from your know-how.
- Feel free to spread the word of Colombia being one of the greatest countries in the world, the relevant buttons are below.