Las Lajas Cathedral

Top Reasons To Visit Ipiales

Most tourists shrug at the thought that there are top reasons to visit Ipiales. For them, the Colombian city is nothing more than a gateway to Ecuador so they do just that. They pass the city like a bridge that will get them somewhere else but don’t treat it as the destination itself. Well it certainly deserves more credit than what it gets.

Ipiales belongs to the Nariño Department of Colombia, southwest of the country. It lies 3 km from the Colombia-Ecuador border so it’s understandable why tourists only use it to reach Ecuador. But there are other reasons why you, as a traveler, should come to Ipiales.

Reason #1: See green clouds

Ipiales is referred to by locals as “The City of Green Clouds” or in their language, “la ciudad de las nubes verdes“. Sometimes in the afternoon, green clouds may be spotted hovering over the city.

Reason #2: Exotic food

Locals are known for their odd taste for food. For instance, they eat guinea pigs when they are treated as pets in many countries. Cavy or cuy as most locals call it is also served in many restaurants throughout Ipiales. The cuy is often likened to a mouse in terms of appearance but is said to taste like rabbit. If you’re into exotic food, this should be included in the top reasons to visit Ipiales.

Reason #3: Black and White Carnival

The grand festival is a celebration of the city’s racial diversity. During this annual event, participants paint each other with make-up and careoca which is basically white soap. People from all over Colombia visit Ipiales for the Black and White Carnival.

Las Lajas Cathedral

Las Lajas Cathedral

Reason #4: Las Lajas Cathedral

The epitome of your trip to Ipiales should be the Las Lajas Cathedral. It is an impressive work of architecture and perhaps the best throughout the city. Also known as the Las Lajas Sanctuary, Santuario de Las Lajas, or Sanctuary of Our Lady of Las Lajas, it is a basilica built within a canyon of the Guáitara River. The current structure dates from 1949 and features Gothic Revival architecture.

The cathedral was built to commemorate a miracle that took place in the area, when an apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared before a deaf and mute girl while seeking refuge in the canyon with her mother from a storm. Since then, miraculous healings have been associated with the area and has become a famous pilgrimage site for devotees of the Virgin Mary.

Reason #5: Gateway to Ecuador

Let’s face it. Its status as a gateway to Ecuador will always be part of the top reasons to visit Ipiales. To reach the border you can take a bus from the terminal in Ipiales. The bus station is a little outside of the city and you would have to get there by taking a collectivo from the city center. Bus rides from the terminal to the border costs 1,500 pesos. The trip ends at the Colombian immigration control which will help you get to Ecuador.

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