It’s the most popular tourist attraction in Colombia. It’s nearly 600 feet down underground. It was built in 1992 and the 127 miners who helped build it are memorialized with holes drilled behind a cross. It’s the Cathedral of Salt, about an hours drive outside of Bogota. Outside of the gigantic underground complex, which is a series of empty horizontal former salt mines, is a gigantic wooden representation of a Ceiba tree, with hooks for rock climbers.
We walked down a tunnel to visit the first of 14 stations of the cross, each a designer’s own interpretation of his particular moment of Jesus’ life. Blinking LED lights welcomed us with a rotating display of world flags in the tunnel.
Down in the carved out lanes from station to station, hundreds of visitors traipsed along the salt crusted walls on their way to the gigantic cathedral that lay at the end of our subterranean journey. It is quite an impressive site to come to the part of the mine with the view of the back of the cathedral–in the back a white cross rises 52 feet from the floor. Up close, it’s revealed to be simply a recessed area that forms the cross, and in the three huge high openings of the cathedral with 100′ high ceilings, it can accommodate 8000 worshippers.
The salt that is produced here in another part of the mine is 95 percent industrial, the stuff that gets put on the table is branded Mi Sal. There is an auditorium down in the mine where a breathless announcer narrates a 3D movie about how the gigantic complex was built. It is all pretty damn amazing, unlike anything I’ve ever seen underground.