Las Lajas Sanctuary

Las Lajas Sanctuary is an unusual Roman Catholic cathedral and basilica church, located inside the canyon of the Guáitara River, in the municipality of Ipailes, Colombia.

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As one of the most outstanding architectural monuments in the world, close to the border with Ecuador, it stands at 100 meters (330 feet) high above the canyon, where a bridge has been built that connects the church with the other side of the ravine.

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Work began in 1916, starting it in a Gothic Revival style, finishing the masterpiece in 1949, which is coned as the most beautiful church in Colombia. The legend begins in 1754 when Amerindian woman with her deaf-mute daughter were caught in a brutal storm, from which they hide in the gorge and the women felt a force calling to them.

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Looking up and seeing the image of the Virgin Mary on the rocks above, the daughter miraculously started speaking and hearing. Shortly after, a blind man has started gathering donations from village to village to build a chapel around the image.

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After ten years of collecting, he managed to arrive at Las Lajas, and was able to see once again. As promised with the donations he built a chapel, and until today the image of the Virgin Mary can be seen in the stone. Whether one truly believes in a miracles like these, it does not matter that much since people can enjoy in the view of this fascinatingly alluring basilica.

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