Be left breathless by Colombia's captivating capital
Surrounded by the high peaks of the Andes, Bogotá is a high altitude and often high octane capital, steeped in history and culture. The magnificent Museo del Oro, beautiful Iglesia del Carmen, burgeoning culinary and cafe scene and historic La Candelaria district provide the provide the perfect way to immerse yourself into the fabric of the city, before delving in to the city's celebrated nightlife. The star attraction here though is Cerro Monserrate and the chance to soar above the city in a cable car on the way to the summit, where a 17th century pilgrimage church and magnificent views await. Bogotá also serves as an excellent base from which to explore the nearby coffee regions and is within a short train ride of one of only two underground salt cathedrals in the world.
The picturesque neighbourhood of La Candelaria forms the historic old town of Bogotá, where the Colonial architecture and cobbled streets have survived the rapid expansion of the city. It is home to many government buildings, historic churches and the fascinating Museo del Oro; one of the finest collections of pre-Columbian gold artefacts anywhere in Latin America. Around half a million visitors a year come through the doors here each year, rewarded with a wonderful insight into life in the region before the Spanish arrived.
There are three ways to reach the summit of Cerro Monserrate; most prefer the cable cars or the funicular, but for the more active there is an energy sapping climb up a winding path, one you might just share with pilgrims making the last leg of their journey in defiance of the increasing altitude (which reaches 3,152 metres above sea level). However you get to the top, you'll be rewarded with a breathtaking vista of the city sprawled out below you and surrounded by verdant vegetation, plus the chance to explore the church itself and the shrine to The Fallen Lord and eat at one of two restaurants. One of the defining experiences of your time in Bogotá.
30 miles from Bogotá and easily reached by coach or train is the surreal underground Roman Catholic cathedral of Zipaquirá. Visitors descend some 180 metres below ground to visit the sanctuary, carved into the disused salt mine and featuring a 16 foot high cross behind the altar. The cathedral remains a place of pilgrimage for many Colombians and continues to serve as a functioning place of worship on Sundays.
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