For some the holidays are about rest and enjoyment and traveling and breaking the daily routine, a time to enjoy yourself with your loved ones. For others it’s all about family, making plans together and staying home. For some it’s about the presents or the food or the novenas. But for some this is a spiritual time, a time to connect with a deeper religious meaning and celebrate the festivities. And even though the Colombian constitution declares it to be a country with freedom of religion and embracing diversity, the fact is the majority of it’s inhabitants come from a catholic tradition, hence the large number of churches in town and the pride locals take in showing them off.
So whether you are interested in the religious part of it, or in architecture or the history or are just looking for an excuse to get out of the house, we bring you a list of the Top 10 churches to visit on this holiday season.
1. Catedral Primada de Bogota: The cathedral is by far one of the most recognizable churches in the city, it is the founding stone of the original town of Santafé established by the Spanish in the 1500′s. Granted, there was already a town established here but the conquistadors weren’t too bothered by it. The current building was constructed in 1807 and is the largest church in Colombia, as well as a national monument.
2.Iglesia de Santa Clara: Since you are already in the city centre after visiting the cathedral, you better stop by the church-museum of Santa Clara. It’s arguably one of the most beautiful ones in the city and hosts a number of important paintings from the colonial and baroque period in Colombian history. A good time to brush up on your local knowledge.
3. Iglesia de San Francisco: This is currently the oldest standing church in all of Bogotá, and was built in the 1550′s. Located in the Avenida Jimenez with Carrera Séptima it is known for the gilded and wood works that decorate it’s interior.
4. Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Egipto: It’s not Egipt the country but the neighbourhood. This church has witnessed some of the bloodiest and most important political and historical events due to it’s convenient location by La Candelaria and it’s age, having been built in 1557.
5. Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen: This church was designed by architect Giovanni Buscaglione in a gothic style with arabic and italian tones. It’s known amongst many for looking like a candy cane, but real architecture aficionados will most certainly be able to read more into the interesting design.
6. Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Lourdes: This Gothic church is the symbol of Chapinero, it was built in the 1800′s and restored on two occasions. The organ in the inside was imported directly from Germany when the building took place.
7. Iglesia de la Porciuncula: This church was established during the early 1920′s for seminarists that came from Italy. It is currently located in the middle of the financial centre of the city, and the monastery part was taken down to make room for a shopping centre. It’s a clash of religious and secular.
8. Iglesia de Santa Bárbara de Usaquen: This colonial church head the main square of what used to be the town of Usaquen. Now after being absorbed by the growth of the city, it is a neighbourhood church worth visiting when going for a coffee or a bite to the gastronomic paradise that is Usaquen.
9. Iglesia del Señor Caído de Monserrate: These holidays, if you are staying in the city, seem like the perfect excuse to finally get up to see the church of Monserrate. Named after a monastery in a mountain in Catalunya, Spain, the ascent can be done by cable car, train and for the brave and physically fit, on foot.
10. Catedral de Zipaquirá: Ok, ok we know this one is not in Bogotá, so we cheated a little but what a great excuse to leave behind the traffic and noise of the city and head out to the country side. Also to finally quiet down all the Bogotanos that seem to take personal offense to you not having been to the Salt cathedral yet.