Las Lajas Sanctuary

Las Lajas Sanctuary
Las Lajas Sanctuary

Seeing the image of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary of Lajas one might well think that it is a Neo-Gothic style temple located in some mountainous country of Central Europe. And yet it is not. This construction with those shapes reminiscent of medieval Gothic architecture although with mixed notes of later styles is found in Colombia. In an area that is also mountainous, although in this case it is part of the northern part of the Andes mountain range.


Las Lajas Sanctuary in Colombia

Specifically the Sanctuary of Las Lajas is located in the Colombian municipality of Ipiales, inside the Guaitara river canyon, forming part of the department of Nariño and at a distance scale from the lands of Ecuador. In fact, it is a highly revered temple in both countries since its origins.

Its origins date back to the beginning of the 18th century, when legend has it that a deaf and dumb indigenous girl recovered her voice when she saw the image of the Virgin miraculously illuminated on these rocks. From there the cult spread.

First a modest hut was built as an almost improvised hermitage. Later a brick chapel would be built. Which was later extended and lasted until well into the 19th century. And the bridge over the ravine was even built then. However, what we see today is moremodern.

During the first half of the 20th century, the sanctuary we see today was built. An impressive construction, especially for its location. It rises on the bridge itself that joins both banks of the ravine. Above it are the three naves of the temple and a tower that reaches a height of a hundred meters.

The construction is clearly inspired by the Gothic style and in some way reminiscent of the great French and Spanish cathedrals, such as those of Burgos or León. None of the typical elements of these constructions are missing. There are the flying buttresses, the pointed arches, the pinnacles, the rosettes, the stained glass windows, etc. What is not there is the typical ambulatory with side chapels. In fact, here the head of three apses is excavated in the natural rock. And it is also striking that the architects even designed a Romanesque-looking crypt in its underground part, integrated into the arches of the bridge.

So we find this typically European construction but in an Andean landscape and surrounded by its own customs and fervent veneration by the locals. It is enough to see the large donations that have been made to the temple, the continuous pilgrimages it receives or its surroundings surrounded by prayers, votive offerings and offerings made by the faithful.

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