Las Lajas Sanctuary is a basilica built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River, a ten minute drive outside of Ipiales, Colombia. It is a fairy-tale European castle built in the heart of a Colombian canyon. Located just passed the border with northern Ecuador, the church makes for a beautiful weekend trip from Quito.
The existence of a religious shrine in this location dates back to the 1700s, but the current gothic revival church was completed in 1949. The church and attached bridge is built crossing the gorge, reaching a height of 330 ft about the riverbed.
As Las Lajas is located down inside a canyon, be prepared for a hilly walk. From the parking lot it is easily a 15 minute walk down hill to reach the start of the church. You can also cross the bridge and start walking up the other side of the canyon for the perfect view of the imposing white architecture contrasting the luscious green landscape. Expect a half an hour walk back up the hill to your car, as you are over 8500 feet above sea level.
There is also a new Teleférico de Las Lajas which takes you on a 15 minute ride from outside the canyon to behind the church. During the ride you get a short view of the other side of the church and the canyon, not visible by walking. As the ride is not necessarily worth doing round trip, we suggest you take the ride up and have one person bring the car to the top.
Tickets and hours depend on what time of the week you visit:
- Monday to Friday from 9AM to 7PM. Tickets cost $16.000 COP roundtrip and $10.000 COP one-way.
- Saturday, Sunday and Holidays from 7AM to 8PM. Tickets cost $20.000 COP roundtrip and $12.000 COP one-way.