After Spanish conquest, architecture in Bogota grew under heavy Spanish influence, placing more importance on the Catholic Church as the central focus of community.
Houses, squares and public parks are built around the Church, making the spiritual edifices the center of public life as well, where people come from all over the city to gather and meet.
For example, paying homage to the importance of the Catholic religion, the shrines of Monserrate and Guadalupe mounted high and towering over Bogota, are, in addition to tourist icons, representations of the Christian faith that influence and guide hundreds.
Under a new campaign by Colombia’s tourism ministry, the country promotes Bogota as a religious destination. Following a path leading to some of the more than 200 churches and parishes in the capital is the perfect example of “religious tourism,” according to the Internet website www.colombia.travel/es.
“In addition to the solemn pilgrimage and celebrations, there are fascinating stories and legends on which the temples were erected, some superb architecture and stunning ornaments inside,” the official tourism site says.
And one does not have to wait for a Sunday or Easter Week: any time of year is ideal to tour the architecture and history of some of the most emblematic churches in the city and its surrounding region.
Stunning photographs accompany some of the more famous examples to be visited in Bogota:
Completed around 1657, the church sits on the crest of a mountain.
Construction was authorized by the Spaniard Don Juan de Borja, a
devotee of the patron “Black Virgen of Monserrat,” whose replica,
called the Moeneta, is guarded in the church.
Santuario de Guadalupe
On the highest hill of the city stands the 15-meter sculpture of the
Immaculate Conception, a work by the master Gustavo Arcila Uribe. The
small chapel survived several earthquakes in the 18th and 19th
centuries, and is dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Besides being
a pilgrimage destination, the site lends a spectacular view of Bogota.
Santuario de la Peña
A unique site for this eastern chapel, whose origin is based on an
image of “La Sangrada Familia,” or The Sacred Family, carved in the
mountain rock centuries ago. The chapel honors the Virgin of Guadalupe
by the parish priest.
Our Lady of Mount Caramel Church
Characterized by its outer bands of red and white Gothic architectural
style, this church is one of the most emblematic of the historical
center of Bogota. Its construction began in 1927 and on April 30, 1993
was declared a national monument.
Church of the Holy Infant Jesus of July 20
Thanks to the devotion of thousands of faithful around the image of
the Divine Child. Salesian Father Juan del Rizzo on July 20, 1936,
convened the community to raise money to build the church, later
completed in 1942.
Church St. Alphonsus Liguori
A crowd of parishioners frequent the church of the La Soledad
neighborhood, who come to venerate the “Lord of Miracles.” The church,
also known as the custody of the image, preserves in its interior art
samples from the 17th Century.