ZIPAQUIRA, Colombia – Known as the first wonder of Colombia, the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira reopened its doors on Thursday after six months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We comply with the health and safety protocols and that is why we decided to reopen the cathedral, starting today,” Orlando Sotelo, manager of the Roman Catholic church located in a salt mine in the municipality of Zipaquira, told reporters.
The cathedral, located about 50 kilometers north of Bogota and built in the tunnels of a salt mine 180 meters underground, earned a spot in Ripley’s 2017 version of the book “Believe It or Not!”
“It has a saline environment which is good for our respiratory tract. The pH of salt is very good for health… You will be able to enjoy a water mirror, a spa and wonderful outdoor, green and spacious areas with the best of services,” added the manager.
The cathedral will be open to 30-40 percent of its usual capacity. It usually welcomes around 6,000 people on a busy day.
“One weekend we can attend 1,500 visitors and we are going with an initial goal of thirty or forty percent of national tourism,” said the manager.
He also explained that each group of visitors, made up of between 10-12 people, will enter with a guide.
“The cathedral has a ventilation system that guarantees the safety – 24 hours a day, throughout the year – not only of tourists, but also of workers,” added Sotelo.
Serbian Radica Nikolic, a woman who arrived in Colombia eight months ago and who has not been able to visit many places due to the COVID-19 pandemic, learned from a friend in Bogota about the reopening of the cathedral and decided to visit with a group of foreigners on Thursday.
“Before coming to Colombia, I had heard about this place. I had met some Colombians who live in my country and when I told them I was going to visit Zipaquira, they told me that here is the first wonder of Colombia. They told me I had to visit it,” Nokolic told EFE.
“At first I was adapting, meeting people, getting to know the city, but I had not had the opportunity to visit the cathedral,” she added. “The place is worth visiting.”
Colombia recorded 5,660 new coronavirus cases and 198 deaths on Thursday, bringing the total number to 835,339 infections and 26,196 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.