[:en]

Ipiales is a small border city in the South of Colombia. The town itself has little to offer, just a few cheap hotels and some unfortunate restaurants, but it serves as a jumping off point for what is considered one of the architectural wonders of Colombia. The Sanctuario de las Lajas is a basilica church whose creation was inspired by a sighting of the apparition of the virgin mary by Maria Mueces and her daughter Rosa. Originally built in the mid 1700s, the site has seen several churches over the years, but the current gothic basilica was built in 1916. It spans across the Guaitara River valley, acting as a bridge and dominating the beautiful rural mountain scenery with its majestic spires.

While we were there, we were able to catch the celebration for the Assumption of mary, which takes place every year during the second week of August. The festivities consist of a long procession, primarily of children pulled from school for the occasion, that takes about an hour to walk down the road toward Lajas, ending at the cathedral. For 15 days in a row the citizens of Ipiales and Las lajas repeat the walk to the sanctuary. Though the procession wasn’t extremely impressive, it was a sight to wander around the little town of Lajas that encircles the cathedral. A dramatic contrast to the gothic opulence of the church, it is just a cluster of small buildings and stairwells cleverly situated on the either side of the rocky slopes. If you wander into the town on the day of the procession, you can see the locals “pageant lamas.” While we were there we saw at least 10 llamas, dressed in tassled and embroidered garments, with ornate saddles. The look is complete with a crown perched on the llama’s head.

Whenever you get to go, the Sanctuario de las Lajas is a beautiful piece of Colombian heritage. Especially if you are on your way to Ecuador, crossing from Ipiales affords you the opportunity to see Colombia’s architectural wonder.  

Getting there:

From Ipiales, you can catch a cab just outside the bus station for 2000 COP per person (they fill up the car before leaving). It takes about 20 minutes to reach Lejas, and then just a 2-3 minute walk through the town to reach the church. On the way back, it is generally easy to find a cab near the main road where they drop you off.

[mk_image src="http://www.be-lost.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/DSCF6457.jpg" image_width="1000" image_height="350" crop="false" svg="true" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" caption_location="inside-image" align="center" margin_bottom="10"][mk_image src="http://www.be-lost.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/IMG_2015-09-30-154748.jpg" image_width="1000" image_height="350" crop="false" svg="true" lightbox="false" frame_style="simple" target="_self" caption_location="inside-image" align="center" margin_bottom="10"]
[:]