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Santuario Nuestra Señora de las Lajas - Cultural Tour Ipiales - Colombia

One day in 1750 (more or less), María Mueses de Quiñónez was walking from Potosí to Ipiales. Upon her back she carried her young, deaf-mute daughter Rosa. They decided to rest at Pastarán cave on the banks of the Río Guáitra. When doña María awoke from a nap, she discovered her daughter had wandered off. Upon finding her, Rosa said, “Mamacita, the Mestiza called to me!” She pointed to an image of a woman holding a child and of two men.

Thus begins the story of Santuario Nuestra Señora de las Lajas. A small adobe chapel was built to protect the image of the Virgin in the shallow cave, forming the “altar screen” of the temple. Over the centuries it expanded to the impressive neo-Gothic structure that now spans the Guáitra River. Many Colombians and Ecuadorians make the pilgrimage to this site, beseeching the Virgin Mary for her intercession. The cliff walls are covered with thousands of plaques thanking her for miracles (the Vatican only recognizes one).

Pack a picnic lunch and come spend the day strolling the network of paths that interlace over the grounds. Take a bath in the healing pools at the foot of the waterfall. There’s even a playground. The on-site museum ($1.75) has exhibits on the Sanctuary’s history and on the Pasto indigenous. On the way back, stop off in El Charco for roasted cuy, a regional specialty.


Las Lajas village, eight kilometers (4.8 mi) from Ipiales

Near Ipiales, Ipiales, Colombia

Cultural Tour

Getting There

To get there, colectivo taxis leave Ipiales from Carrera 6 and Calle 6 ($2.25) and from the bus terminal ($1.25).

Travel Tips:

Up the hill in Las Lajas village are several hotels, from basic to grand ($3-10 per person, per night), or you can stay at the Casa Pastoral ($4 per night; Tel: 09-2-775-4463).

The Santuario is crowded at Easter (Semana Santa) and for the Virgen de las Lajas feast days the first two weeks of September.

On the way back, stop off in El Charco for roasted cuy, a regional specialty.

Price Description:

The Santuario and its grounds are free. The Museum costs $1.75 for adults, free for children under 12.

Relative price: Budget

Open Hours from:(museum) 8 a.m.

Open Hours to:(museum) 5:30 p.m.

Days Closed:(museum) Tuesday

Travel Skills: beginner/easy.

You Need to Bring:

Like Colombian and Ecuadorian pilgrims, a picnic lunch.

Piedra de los Monos petrographs (rock paintings).

Contact Information:
Phone: 2-775-4462 / 2-775-4428
E-mail: E-mail: laslajas08(at)

By Lorraine Caputo

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26 Sep 2011

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