Las Lajas Sanctuary. Colombia
Such places as this attract not only pilgrims, deeply religious people, but also curious tourists and simply lovers of wonderful nature and connoisseurs of incredible beauty of architecture.
This cathedral, Las Lajas Sanctuary, built in the Gothic style, is one of the most interesting sights of Colombia. Such a beautiful architectural structure is located at an altitude of two and a half thousand meters above the sea level, on a bridge leading through the abyss in the canyon of the Guáitara River, not far from the border with Ecuador.
It is one of the most visited temples of Colombia. Las Lajas Sanctuary serves as a frame for the rock icon of Senora de las Lajas. Now it is not only the most revered place among the South American pilgrims, but also a symbol of the consent between Ecuadorian and Colombian peoples. In addition, it was recognized as one of the seven wonders of Colombia.
According to the old legend, not far from this place there was a cave, which was famous for its not good glory, so people avoided it. But in 1754 there was an event that changed the attitude to this place – a miraculous appearing of Virgin Mary. Allegedly, the Mother of God healed a deaf-mute girl named Rosa. After that, a non-handmade image of a woman with a baby on her hands appeared on the stone wall. Now this wall is the back of the cathedral, and the image is in the center. After the deaf-mute girl had told about that miracle to her fellow-villagers in clear Spanish, the rock icon of Senora de las Lajas was recognized as sacred.
Later, the figures of Saint Francis and Dominic were added to the both sides of the saint with the baby. The interior space of the cathedral is designed so that the icon on the stone is the central altar image. The very image of the Virgin Mary is, to some extent, a mystery to the scientists, since for all past centuries the image has not worn out or faded, and still pleases people with ever bright colors. Skeptical scientific minds believe that the stone is impregnated with paint more than a meter deep, so time does not affect the clarity of the contours.
Around 1794, the first chapel was built near the cave, to which people brought candles as a gift to the Theotokos. The building was rebuilt three times, and the cathedral, in the form in which we can admire it today, was completed in 1949. It was designed by the architects Lucindo Espinosa and Gualberto Perez. Since then, pilgrims from all over the world began to come to this holy remarkable place, the miraculous cave. Local residents believe in miracles, and are sure that a wonderful icon can cure any disease, both physical and mental. Near the cathedral you can see a lot of thanksgiving tablets from the happy healed people.
Las Lajas Sanctuary is a unique landmark that combines religious, architectural and pictorial value. The 30-meter arched bridge on both sides of the deep gorge, which unites all the buildings of the temple, gives this place a solemn and majestic appearance and from where a fantastic view of the gorge opens.