You probably seen that image of the beautiful white church. It looks like a mysterious but beautiful church, but what is the name of this mysterious church? Where is he?  Let’s take a look at the myths, the history of the church and the cemetery Santuario Las Lajas.

santuario de Las Lajas
santuario de Las Lajas

Hidden in the department of Nariño, near the colonial Ipiales, lies Las Lagas. Las Lajas is located near the border with Ecuador. The place where the church is built is one of the most unique locations in the world. The building is built over a spectacular valley that connects one cliff with the other. The building is surrounded by a waterfall and the Guáitara river. The total picture makes it a mystical place.

Angel Las Lajas
Angel Las Lajas

The first stone was laid in 1916 and the construction of the church was finally completed in 1949. Las Lajas is in the top 10 list of the world’s most original and unique churches and has been declared a national monument in 1984. The church falls not only because of its striking architecture, the valley, river and mountain walls, also topographically it is one of the world’s most beautiful places.

Appearance Virgin Mary at Las Lajas

Although the church naturally stands out for its location and appearance, there is another reason why this church is so well attended. It is said that at Santuario de Las Lajas the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared. This is the reason that the church is built. The apparition took place in 1750 when a woman, called Maria Muesces de Quiñonez, and her deaf and dumb daughter Rosa were forced into a gale during the thunderstorm.

Maria Mueses de Quiñonez Las Lajas
Maria Mueses de Quiñonez Las Lajas

They sought a place to take shelter and eventually found shelter in a cave. Because of the pointed rocks and dark colors they always thought that the caves were inhabited by the devil and these rocky areas were also known as ‘Las Lajas’. The weather became worse and worse.
To Maria’s surprise, her daughter Rosa spoke for the very first time and shouted loudly: “Mother, the lady calls me!” She pointed to a lightning that caused an enlightened image of the Virgin Mary on the rock face. A few days later after the incident, Rosa had suddenly gone missing and her mother suspected she had returned to the cave.

Maria Mueses de Quiñonez com Rosa Las Lajas
Maria Mueses de Quiñonez com Rosa Las Lajas

Maria hurried to the place where she had tucked in the thunderstorm that day and saw her daughter playing with a woman and her young child. Mary fell on her knees before the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus.
Not long after, Rosa became seriously ill and suddenly fell silent. Her mother Maria was desperate because her daughter was ill within such a short time and died that she brought Rosa’s body to Las Lajas where she asked if the Virgin Mary could bring her daughter back to life. Her prayers were answered, because Rosa came back to life.

A very happy Maria went back to Ipiales to tell her remarkable story. The appearance and subsequent miracle caused a massive rise of people who also wanted a ‘miracle for themselves’. It became a pilgrimage where believers placed flowers and candles.

Soon ideas and plans were made to do something with the sacred area. Fray Gabriel Villafuerte was the first to house a reed church there. This was slowly extended to the church that today amazes people for its beauty and splendor. The altar of the church is to this day situated in the rock wall where the Virgin Mary appeared to Rosa, now more than 250 years ago ..

At site it is a 15-minute walk to the church that you can follow via the signs that say “a miracle of god on the abyss”. Along this road there are many other signs with thanksgiving.
You see here a statue of Manuel de Rivera, a blind man who was healed by the Holy Virgin. But also the statue of Mary and her daughter Rosa is at the entrance. According to some, Las Lajas is the second place in the world where miracles have been performed next to Lourdes.

Below the church is a museum that tells the history of the construction of the church, along with a number of historically religious objects. If you visit the church Las Lajas, take the time for this.
SFor an unforgettable experience you can also see the illuminated church in the evening. Las Lajas is now a popular destination for believers from all parts of South America. If you want to avoid the busiest day, make sure you skip Sunday as a visiting day.

The nearest town is Ipiales. This is about 5.5 kilometers away. Here you can stay overnight and find restaurants. If you are there, do not forget to try the local Nariño specialty: Cuy, this is pork prepared in a special way. This is usually on the menu at local restaurants.

The official website :

Adres: Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia

You can take a  taxi from outside Ipiales or get a bus at the bus terminal.  It drops you off at the main entrance from where the sanctuary is 5-10 minute walk down the hill. The church is free to enter although the museum below is, which is well worth a look .

There are no bus services to Las Lajas.

It is also possible to walk to Las Lajas from Ipiales through the pedestrian way. The road goes down hill with stunning scenery and viewpoint along the way.

East Colombia
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