Bogota tourist attractions: A Historical and Religious tour

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Haga click sobre la imagen para ampliarla Monserrate Sanctuary

Monserrate Sanctuary /Flickr User leandrociuffo/

Following the Spanish conquest, Bogotá grew architecturally in the Spanish style. Churches, plazas, and parks were gradually built around the church - always the meeting point for the community.

Aside from being tourist icons and an indication of the importance of Catholicism, the temples in which it is practiced, and the history that precedes them, the sanctuaries of Guadalupe and Monserrate, atop Bogotá’s highest mountain peaks, represent the Christian faith that drives hundreds of people.

This happens daily there, as well as in over 200 churches and parishes spread throughout the city.

Following the Spanish conquest, Bogotá grew architecturally in the Spanish style. Churches, plazas, and parks were gradually built around the church, which was always the main axis and meeting point for the whole community.

Haga click sobre la imagen para ampliarla El Carmen Church, Bogotá

El Carmen Church, Bogotá /Flickr User zug55 /

This feature may be appreciated in the vast majority of Bogotá’s sections, where these buildings preserve a growing interest, not only for the religious ceremonies that take place, but by the historic and cultural value that led to the construction of many of them.

Religious tourism: solemn activities, varied and very interesting

Visiting several of the most traditional churches is a plan that consolidates Bogotá also as a religious destination. Aside from pilgrimages and solemn celebrations, there are fascinating stories and legends on why the temples were erected – temples with a superb architecture and astonishing ornaments inside.

Haga click sobre la imagen para ampliarla Guadalupe Peak, Bogotá

Guadalupe Peak, Bogotá /Flickr User alex_dc/

Any moment – not just Sundays and Holy Week - is ideal for delving into the architecture and history of the city’s most emblematic churches and their surroundings.

Santuario de Monserrate
The construction of this church came to an end towards 1657. It had been authorized by Spaniard Don Juan de Borja, a devotee of the Virgen Morena de Montserrat, patroness of Catalonia, whose replica – called “La Moreneta” – was kept in the church. The likeness of the Señor Caído (the Fallen Lord), sculpted by city artist Pedro de Lugo y Albarracín, arrived somewhat later. (Paseo de Bolívar – cable car station).
Santuario de Guadalupe
A 15-meter sculpture of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción (Virgin of the Immaculate Conception), by artist Gustavo Arcila Uribe, was erected on the capital’s tallest mountain peak. There is also a small hermitage that survived several earthquakes during the 18th and 19th centuries. Aside from being a pilgrimage site, it offers a splendid view of Bogotá. (Km 8 signpost on the road to Choachí).
Santuario Nuestra Señora de la Peña
This chapel, whose origins are traced to a likeness of the Sacred Family sculpted centuries ago on a rock on a difficult road bend, was built on an exclusive lookout point in eastern Bogotá. The history of this interesting finding and the details of the devotion to the Virgen de Guadalupe are recounted in detail by the parish priest. (Carrera 7A Bis Este N° 6-26).
Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen
This gothic style church, characterized by the red and white strips of its façade, is one of Bogota’s most emblematic churches in the historical center. Construction began in 1927, and it was declared a national monument on April 30, 1993. (Carrera 5 N° 8-36).
Iglesia del Divino Niño Jesús del 20 de Julio
This is one of the busiest temples in the city, thanks to the devotion of thousands to the likeness of the Divine Child. Salesian priest Juan del Rizzo convoked the community of the 20 de Julio neighborhood to raise the necessary funds for its construction, which ended in 1942. (Calle 27 Sur N° 5A-27)
Iglesia San Alfonso María de Ligorio
With a tradition of over half a century, this church, located in the neighborhood of La Soledad, brings together a multitude of parishioners to venerate the likeness of the Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles) that had been displayed up to 1957 in a temple downtown. The church, which is also known by the name of the likeness it guards, preserves art samples from the 17th century. (Avenida 28 N° 39-27).

Interesting churches in the region

Haga click sobre la imagen para ampliarla Salt Cathedral, Zipaquirá

Salt Cathedral, Zipaquirá /Flickr User Matthew Winterburn/

Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá
The most amazing thing about this site is the architectural ingenuity applied to create a solemn, majestic 8,500-meter temple in the underground world of an old salt mine. The Stations of the Cross and an enormous 16-meter sculpture of the Cross in the central nave are outstanding. The Salt Cathedral is one of the region’s and Colombia´s tourist strongholds and is considered one of its main marvels. It is located 50 km north of the Colombian capital, in the municipality of Zipaquirá.
Santuario Nuestra Señora de la Salud
The parish of San Lorenzo Mártir, in the municipality of Bojacá, west of Bogotá, is home to the likeness of Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health). Its origins go back to the 18th century, when Spaniard José Pérez brought from Granada (Spain) a picture of the miraculous Virgen de los Dolores, also known as the Virgen de las Angustias. At first, the picture was kept on an hacienda close to town; it was later donated to the parish and enthroned on the main altar. The church receives tens of drivers, especially on weekends, who want the parish priest to bless their newly bought cars. So rooted is the faith of people in this blessing, that they call it “the third compulsory insurance policy”.
Santuario del Señor de la Piedra de Sopó
History tells us that around 1753 a washerwoman at La Moya Stream saw the image of Jesus Flagellated reflected on a rock, which she took home and to which the miracle of the recovery of vision of the parish priest was attributed. Since 1909, the likeness of the Señor de la Piedra (Lord of the Rock) has its own chapel in the town of Sopó, north of Bogotá.

If you are into history and culture, we invite you to the see following:

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