Las Lajas sanctuary in Colombia

route-m-d
Monika and Daniel @route-m-dFebruary 2019 · 5 min read

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Travelling across Colombia led us to Ipiales, mountainous town, where you’ll find the magnificent Gothic Sanctuary called Las Lajas.

 
As you know, there are always two ways to reach any destination – easy and the cheap one. Guess which one we have chosen? 😊 Yep, you’re right, the cheapest one by bus with many stops, as the only tourists. Well, like usual.

Being already in Neiva we were thinking about reaching the Ecuadorian border in some time, but before we had to stop by for a few days to see Las Lajas - the effect of people’s extraordinarily hard work.

But why they built such a huge temple in such difficult terrain? That’s a good question! When we talk about worship places, there had to be some sort of miracle centuries ago. Everything began back in 1754...

The woman, Maria Mueces, and her daughter Rosa, were passing by the Guaitara river
when they found themselves hiding from a storm.
At that moment that Rosa shouted “Mum, the Virgin is calling me!” and pointed to the appearing virgin.
The woman kept quiet about the miracle until something even more incredible happened.
When Rosa died, Mueces returned to the place where they had seen Virgin Mary pray for her daughter’s soul.
The virgin then miraculously revived Rosa, and mother and daughter could no longer keep the miracle a secret.
source

Legend is still alive, and we can confirm that hundreds of people are coming every day to worship the Virgin Mary.

But, let’s back to the history of the church for a second again.

Local people decided to build a temple a few years after the first miracle occurred. 50 years later, grater shrine was built in the place of the first, wooden one. In the same year, the bridge which allows entering the basilica was open to the public as well.

There's another not explained mystery, which you can find behind the altar. There’s an image of the Virgin Mary, but no one knows who made it. You can look for an explanation in another legend which is saying, that: when Maria Mueces arrived with a priest to show him, where her daughter had been revived, they found a carved image of Mary and Jesus in the rock.

All those stories and image itself bring thousands of pilgrims every year to pray to the Virgin Mary.

When we arrived at Las Lajas, we were welcomed by the enormous market, where you can buy anything with the logo of the basilica or Virgin Mary, or Jesus, or anything related to this place.

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Fancy a holy bottle? :)

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Maybe fancy pic w llama?

This shocked us, but at least we knew which road we had to follow to find the basilica. After 10 min walk between booths, finally, we saw it.

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Stunning scenery around just enlarged sacred aura. When we moved closer, hundreds of “brainless” pilgrims surrounded us. Why brainless? Because they were taking stupid pictures of sacred objects without even moment to stop and think why they are here. Even for us, it was very difficult to focus on anything. Of course, the longest line was to take a shot of mystery art piece behind the altar.

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Stained glass windows with Virgin Mary's revelations around the globe

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The most hilarious happened when a little girl asked us to take a photo together. It might be hard to believe for you, but again we were only extranjeros over there. 😊

At the side of the church, a small gift shop is located, where you can get official (yep, yhy, better than one from booths before the entrance) souvenirs and you can pay for a mess in someone’s intention. Of course, you can book other holy sacraments and paid upfront, because there’s an official price list. Yes, there’s no mistake. It’s not the first time we spot a price list in Catholic Church hanging for public view.

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Fountain with holy water

Anyway, we moved downstairs to have a sandwich and finally get some fresh air. The Guitara river which flows underneath is horribly contaminated! We wrote already about Peru and how people are destroying the environment over there, and Colombia tries to follow them. Yellow foam covered the water, so sad.

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View from the bottom of the canyon

In case, someone will get hungry there are plenty of restaurants and fast foods where you can recover your energy, everything with a beautiful view in price.

In our opinion area like this should be a sacred place, where you can calm down and focus. Shouldn’t be a mass tourist attraction to engage people who are hungry for views and great selfies.

Of course, thanks to Las Lajas, many families can survive due to people who are happy to spend their money for snacks and souvenirs.

If anyone would plan to visit Colombia and Ecuador this place is worth to visit!

Thanks for staying with us,
M&D

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This temple is perfectly situated! It somehow looks like it was built on a bridge - stunning. Tourists go there to take photos and mostly don't think further. They just seek to tick off that box that they've been there. I have also noticed such behavior. On one side I feel sorry for them that they don't get it but the other side it is their decision so who cares :)

It's an amazing building and I love the stained glass. This is something what has always fascinated me.

Great photos and nice story as always :)

Thank you for sharing and have a great weekend!


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Hi, thanks for such nice comment :) Isn't it interesting, that people around the world are so similar? Doesn't matter which continent, the desire to show on Instagram/facebook pics from cool places is so big, that people are losing their senses. Like you're saying, who cares :) That's their lives anyway.

Same to you :)

PS. this month we want to visit this brewery in Holland :)


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Wow! That basilica is in a fantastic spot. What a gorgeous view. I love its architecture and that statue of the angel pouring water is absolutely wonderful!
We have a miracle story here in Portugal as well, but that one beats it by miles!

Thanks for your article and amazing photos!


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Wow! Amazing place, fantastic photos!


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The world is filled with such beautiful wonders. Hope you had a wonderful trip.


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So beautiful, what a peculiar and wondrous cathedral with such rich history and .... equally rich economy that thrives around it :) Gorgeous photos, and I love the hokey 'holy' bottles ! People are so ingenious and entertaining :D

Love the river shots at the end :) Very lovely post, with great photos and well narrated! I enjoyed it very much <3


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Thank you for such huge positive feedback!! Yes, people, there are very inventive, but from the other hand, they seem to be careless like when we mention about the river contamination, it's not a single case.


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How beautiful! It looks like something out of a fantasy novel.... it is amazing the things people have created


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Wow, that is a stunning piece of architecture! Those stained glass windows I could spend hours in front of just sitting and taking in each small detail. Such a sad juxtaposition, though, as you pointed out. Tourism really is so important for so many places in the world, but then at the same time all that traffic can wreak so much havoc, as well. That's really sad about the river beneath. It's crazy that we can see so much beauty in certain things, but then totally lose sight of how our actions and waste can completely decimate that. I know I am guilty of it at times, but continually try to make the attempt to minimize my negative impact on this marvelous planet we live on!


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It's like watching the movie 'The Lord of the Ring'!
The place is very majestic.


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