Zipaquira’s Salt Cathedral: The Muisca Trail – Bogota Travel Guide
This trip starts by taking Autopista Norte (the Northern Highway) and it covers the central region of the savannah. In prehispanic times, this was a very important settlement for the Muiscas (indigenous group), who inhabited the Bogota Savannah and the Cundinamarca and Boyaca plateau. This is an opportunity to follow on the steps of the comuneros, brave peasants who came from faraway Socorro(Santander) to Santa Fe, the capital of the New Kingdom of Granada, to demand the government to cut back on expensive taxes imposed on the oppressed people.
On Autopista Norte, at the place known as La Caro, we find Marroquín castle, the work of French architect Gaston Lelarge, whose construction star ted in 1902, and is now the stage of important events. Near there we find Puente del Comun, on the Bogota river. Further north, on the right side of the road stands Hacienda Yerba-buena, house of Instituto Caro y Cuervo, specializing in linguistic research.
further to the north the road continue, offering beautiful views on both sides til what was before the huge property nt the Marroqufn family, including Hato grande, the country house of Colombia’s presidents. Along the road we find dairy (arms and shops. Road signs point to the municipality of Briceno and the detour to Zipaquira. The area is filled with restaurants offering grilled meat and typical food, such as El Portico, on Kilometer 19 of Autopista Norte. To the left stands Jaime Duque Park, from where an alternate road to Zipaquira and the Salt Cathedral can be taken.
Zipaquira’s name is reminiscent of the Zipa, the Muisca top chief, owner of the rich Salt mines that have made this region lamous. Here stands El Zipa hill and the Parque de la Sal (Salt Park), a large tourist complex including the mine, currently being exploited, and the Salt Cathedral, one of its main tourist attractions, a unique landmark in its kind. Museo de La Salmuera, showing the industrial process for the production of salt, is another place to visit. Guides are available.
Visitors can also admire the surroundings of the square and its magnificent architecture, as well as Los Dolores chapel. La Esperanza park, an example of recovery for public space, was opened recently.
On the way back, we suggest taking the way to Cajica. There, on the main square, restaurants and shops with typical dishes of the region, like amasijos, quinua bread, almojabanas and tropical fruit ice cream delight visitors. The region still preserves the native tradition of wool knitting.
A few kilometers away to the south lies the town of Chia, an ancient native settlement that used to pay tribute to the moon and Bachue, the protective goddess of the Muisca group. Its tissues and pottery handcrafts, corn-based gastronomy are also reminiscent of their indigenous origins. Chia’s rich offer of restaurants is famous, as well as its most recent malls: Sabana Norte, Plaza Mayor, Plaza Chía and Centro Chia; the latter, opposite Universidad de la Sabana’s campus.
Chia (2564 m.a.s.l. is°C): Flistorical city which is separated from Bogota by 35 km. Today it is one of the true residential districts integrating the capital. There you can find typical or international restaurants and picnic areas along the road. The origin of the name of this location is in the Chibcha language and means “Goddess of the Moon”, one of the deities of the ancient dwellers. Some 15 km ahead, heading north, you reach Zipaquira.
On the way to Cota town, we find restaurants with a very attractive gastronomic offer: shops offer exquisite sweets and traditional desserts. Also, antique and handcrafts shops offer products typical from the region: leather articles, hammocks, shawls and rustic furniture.
The return to Bogota can be taken by Autopista Norte or by Cota.
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