Las Lajas Sanctuary, a catholic church located in southern Colombia about seven miles from the Ecuadorian border, is considered the most beautiful church in Colombia. It was voted the most beautiful church in the world by the English newspaper ‘The Telegraph’ in 2015.
Located outside of the town of the Colombian town of Ipiales the church is 130 feet tall and bridges the Guaitara River 300 feet below. Colombia, being a Catholic country, once ruled by Spain, has lots of stunning churches. But Las Lajas combines impressive Gothic architecture, a unique location, incredible design and a great story.
An Amerindian and her deaf-mute daughter were caught in a storm here in 1754. Midst the bolts of lightning the girl saw an image of the Virgin Mary who guided them to the safety of a nearby cave. After the storm the girl was healed and could hear and speak. Since then tourists and pilgrims have been coming to this site. Many pray for miracles and numerous cases of miraculous healing have been reported over the years.
The Spaniards built a shrine here in 1756, a larger one in 1802 and a bridge connecting both sides of the canyon in 1882. The church was built with funding by local parishioners between 1916 and 1949.
Many people put this church in the top ten things to see in Colombia. If one is keen on religious tourism that could be true. It only takes a couple hours to tour the site, But the church is just far away from Pasto to merit the promotion it gets.
It’s a day trip from the southern Colombian city of Pasto – a 4 hour bus trip each way due to ongoing construction work on the Pan-American highway. But if one is en route to Ecuador then it’s just a ten-minute bus ride from the border town of Ipiales to the church. It’s a more convenient stop before or after making the Colombia-Ecuador border crossing.