Salt Mine of Nemocón
Arts & Culture
Deep underground; it's like a journey to the centre of the Earth.
A visit to the Salt Mine of Nemocón is a unique and unforgettable experience, deep underground; it’s like a journey to the centre of the Earth.
Nemocón is located 65 kilometres from Bogotá
, close to Zipaquirá, off of the North highway; via La Caro, the common bridge in Cajicá. If you take the Ubaté route towards Nemocón after 11 kilometres you will find a small, but well preserved city with many tourist attractions including an historical centre, church, main square and of course, the Salt Mine. If you’re feeling peckish you’ll find some lodgings and restaurants serving typical Colombian food
, offering dishes like Ajiaco, creole chicken, steak and a variety of cakes and pastries.
The Salt Mine of Nemocón, with more than 500 years of history, lies 80 metres below ground and has some 2500 metres of pathways, as well as unique formations unlike any others in the world.
We began our journey to the centre of the mine by entering through large, German-built doors, three metres high, which are the original doors from 1817. They are supported by thick eucalyptus wood, a wood which is used a lot in the mine as it absorbs the moisture in the air, a saline environment similar to that within concrete structures.
Descending the mine the first thing we encounter is the image of the Virgin Mary. The miners are very devoted believers and this image is within a hole in the wall and seems to be made of coated cotton rather than salt. We then find the first salt stalactites and continuing along the path we encounter a model that shows the process of exploitation of the mine.
One of the things that impressed me most was the fountain of water. There is a saturation tank where an incredible water fountain is formed, creating an optical illusion of magnified glass, said to be a magical and natural wonder.
Also beautiful, is the chapel of the Virgin Carmén, patron of the miners, drivers and Colombian police. A grand sphere represents the world and above it is the image of the Virgin Mary hanging over it. This represents the Virgin’s protection over everyone in the world.
Continuing along the path, we find a wishing well, where many people come to throw a coin in and make a wish. It is made of falling saltwater and is over 80 years old, having formed through multiple filtrations of water. This is one of the most beautiful areas of the mine.
The ‘City of Saltwater Leaks’, or ‘Chamber of Stalactites and Stalagmites’ is more than a metre in length and over 100 years old, and has spectacular formations shaped like ferns, bulbs and roots. Indoor air-currents are produced by the different, incredible shapes the formations make.
‘The House of Palpito’ is a magical and incredible space where we found ‘El Corazón de Nemocón’(the heart of Nemocón), which was a large block of salt weighing around one tonne, found by miner Maximiliano Chuy, and carved into a heart shape by Miguel Sánchez. It was lit with a dim, red light, which adds a feel of life to the heart.
We also found an image of Alexander von Humboldt, who visited the Salt Mines of Zipaquirá and Nemocón and began a scientific exploration, based on his knowledge of European mine exploitation.
Seeing the Salt Mine of Nemocon for yourself is a unique and inimitable experience. It truly shows the greatness of creation and man’s ability to harness, transform and preserve nature. It is also possible in one day to visit the Salt Mine of Nemocón and the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá