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14 Colombian Monuments and Their Surprising Stories

Cristo rey monument cali Valle del cauca Colombia

Updated on 02/20/2024

Dear reader,I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

In this blog you will learn about Colombia in stone, bronze and memory; a journey through some of its most important monuments.

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What are National Monuments?

National Monuments in Colombia are special places such as historical buildings, natural areas, and valuable objects that hold significance for the country’s history and culture. The Ministry of Culture, through the National Heritage Council, protects them, and to date, 1002 National Monuments have been declared in Colombia.

Below, you’ll learn about some with the title of National Monuments and others that are simply important due to their significance.

Monumento a Cristo Rey – Cali, Valle del Cauca

The Monumento a Cristo Rey (Monument to Christ the King) is a religious monument and one of Cali’s most popular tourist attractions. In 2023, it celebrated its 70th anniversary since construction. It was inaugurated on October 25, 1953, commemorating 50 years of peace (1902-1952) in the Republic of Colombia, following the Thousand Days’ War (a bloody civil conflict) in November 1902.

Location of the Monumento a Cristo Rey

It is located on Cerro los Cristales, within the district of Los Andes to the west of Cali, Valle del Cauca.

Curiosities about the Cristo Rey

  • The Monumento a Cristo Rey stands at a height of approximately 85 feet, with a 16-foot pedestal and a wingspan of approximately 69 feet. Made of iron and concrete, it weighs approximately 512,578 pounds. It is the largest statue of its kind in Colombia and the tenth tallest in the world.
  • The hill where the monument is situated is called Cerro de los Cristales, named for the quartz crystals found in its surroundings.
  • Currently, the monument is visited by 290,000 tourists annually. Additionally, you can find a chapel, a restaurant, and a parking lot.
  • The Monumento a Cristo Rey is a significant pilgrimage site for local residents, especially during Holy Week.
  • From the statue’s base, visitors can climb stairs to enjoy a panoramic view of the city of Cali.
  • At night, the monument is illuminated and visible from various points in the city.
  • The stairs leading to the base are adorned with commemorative plaques honoring important people and events in the city’s history.

La Piedra del Peñol – Guatapé, Antioquia

The Piedra del Peñol (Rock of Guatapé) is a rock formation, essentially a giant monolith that you can climb to observe the entire Guatapé reservoir. It was declared a National Monument in 1972.

Location of the Piedra del Peñol

It is located about 50 miles from Medellín, in the municipality of Guatapé, Antioquia.

Curiosities about the Piedra del Peñol

  • The Piedra del Peñol is not a meteorite, as many believe, but a geological formation that originated about 70 million years ago due to tectonic and magmatic movements.
  • The rock has a height of approximately 722 feet above the level of the artificial reservoir that surrounds it and a depth of approximately 1.55 miles. It is one of the largest monoliths in the world.
  • The Piedra del Peñol was an object of worship for the Thamies indigenous people who inhabited the area before the arrival of the Spaniards. It is believed to be the place where sacred rituals and offerings took place.
  • The rock is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Colombia, by both local and international tourists.
  • The first climb of the rock was made in 1954 by a group of friends who took 5 days to reach the top, using only ropes, sticks, and nails. Nowadays, it can be climbed in just 20 minutes using stairs with 740 steps built in 1970.
  • At the top, there is a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. There are also several stalls where you can buy local food and shops with souvenirs.

Puente de Occidente – Olaya, Antioquia

The Puente de Occidente was declared a National Monument in 1978. It is one of the oldest and longest suspension bridges in Latin America, considered a masterpiece of 19th-century engineering.

Location of the Puente de Occidente

The Puente de Occidente is situated over the Cauca River, between the towns of Olaya and Santafé de Antioquia, 37 miles from Medellín in the department of Antioquia.

Curiosities about the Puente de Occidente

  • The Puente de Occidente was built to cross the Cauca River and connect the western region of Antioquia with the rest of the department. 
  • Constructed in 1887, it is considered one of the oldest suspension bridges in Latin America and one of the longest in the world at 291 meters (956 feet). It is composed of iron and wood.
  • Its design and construction posed a significant challenge for the time, overcoming natural obstacles of the terrain and the river’s flow. No plans or calculations were used.
  • The bridge is supported by four pyramidal towers and cables anchored in brick masonry on both sides of the river.
  • Currently, it is open to pedestrian traffic and is an important tourist attraction in the region. Visitors can cross the bridge and enjoy views of the river and its landscapes.

Cathedral of Salt in Zipaquirá – Zipaquirá, Cundinamarca

The Cathedral of Salt in Zipaquirá was declared a Cultural Heritage site in 2005. It is an underground church built within a salt mine in the city of Zipaquirá, considered one of Colombia’s architectural religious wonders.

Location of the Cathedral of Zipaquirá

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is located in a salt mine in Zipaquirá, a municipality in the department of Cundinamarca, 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) from Bogotá.

Curiosities about the Cathedral of Zipaquirá

  • The construction of the cathedral began in 1930 and was carried out by the region’s salt miners using traditional techniques. These involved sculpting solid mass to create empty and filled spaces, extracting a total of 250,000 tons of salt.
  • The cathedral covers an area of 10 hectares, is located 190 meters (about 623 feet) underground, and has three sections of sculptures representing the birth, life, and death of Jesus.
  • One of the main statues is a cross carved in salt, measuring 180 meters (about 590 feet) in height and weighing 80 tons, making it the world’s largest of its kind.
  • The monuments are illuminated by light displays that highlight the beauty of the salt formations, creating an atmosphere between the mystical and spiritual.
  • This complex cathedral and its sculptures were recognized as Colombia’s first engineering wonder in 2007 and as a historical heritage of the country.
  • Every year during Holy Week, religious ceremonies and processions take place in the cathedral, attracting 50,000 tourists per month.

Monserrate – Bogotá D.C

Declared a National Monument in 1975, Monserrate is a hill where you can observe almost the entire city of Bogotá. It is a tourist spot that should not be missed on a visit to the capital of Colombia. There, you will find a chapel dedicated to the Dark Virgin, shops with local crafts, and one of the most luxurious restaurants in Bogotá.

Location of Monserrate

Near the historic center of Bogotá, at Carrera 2nd East No. 21-48, Paseo de Bolívar, Bogotá D.C.

Curiosities about Monserrate

  • Monserrate Hill rises to an altitude of 3,152 meters (approximately 10,341 feet) above sea level, making it one of the highest points in Bogotá.
  • The first hermitage on Monserrate was built between 1640 and 1650, coinciding with the arrival of the Spaniards.
  • Around 30,000 European, South American, and American tourists climb more than 1,600 steps each month to visit the top of the hill.
  • On the hill, you can find one of the most luxurious restaurants in Bogotá, Casa San Isidro, which still preserves its architecture from the era.
  • On December 20, 1895, tightrope walker Harry Warner walked 890 meters from Monserrate to Guadalupe Hill on a tightrope with his eyes blindfolded.
  • It is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Colombian Catholics.
  • TThe funicular, one of the means of transportation to reach the hill, is almost 100 years old, inaugurated in 1929. It has a length of 844 meters (approximately 2,769 feet) and inclines at an angle of 62 degrees.
  • The Señor Caído de Monserrate (Fallen Lord of Monserrate) is the main tourist attraction of the sanctuary, a representation of a fallen Jesus on the ground. It is said that this image grants miracles to those who visit it.
  • Monserrate Hill is often the site of special events and festivals, such as the famous Downhill descent organized by Red Bull. More than 10 countries participate, and it is witnessed by thousands of tourists.

Monumento a los Colonizadores – Manizales, Caldas

The Monumento a los Colonizadores (Monument to the Colonizers) is a sculptural monument honoring the first colonizers who arrived in Caldas in search of new opportunities. It is one of the most representative monuments in the city of Manizales and a popular tourist attraction.

Location of the Monumento a los Colonizadores

Between 12 de octubre Avenue and Carrera 9, in the Chipre neighborhood, Manizales, Caldas.

Curiosities about the Monumento a los Colonizadores

  • It is the only place where you can appreciate an almost complete view of the mountains surrounding Manizales.
  • The monument is represented in two parts: “La Agonía” of the difficult journeys of the colonizers through the mountains and “El Extásis” represents their triumph upon reaching the region.
  • The monument is 15 meters (approximately 49 feet) high and is made of 50 tons of bronze donated by the city’s inhabitants (keys or pieces of copper and bronze that they did not use).
  • The monument is located in the Chipre neighborhood, where there was once a water source that dried up, later giving way to the current work built between 1997 and 2002.
  • In the monument, there is a woman raising her child in gratitude, a representation of the Virgin Mary, considered the patron saint of the city.

El Bolívar Cóndor – Manizales, Caldas

The Bolívar Cóndor monument was declared a National Monument in 1994. It is a sculpture that merges the human figure with the condor, Colombia’s national bird. The sculpture represents the freedom and spirit of Simón Bolívar, the liberator of America. It is one of the country’s most symbolic sculptures.

Location of Bolívar Cóndor

It is located in Bolívar Square in Manizales, in the historic center, near the Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, in the department of Caldas.

Curiosities about Bolívar Cóndor

  • The monument was an idea that arose in 1986 when a new Bolívar Square with a European style was constructed.
  • The monument has a height of 13 meters (approximately 43 feet) and weighs 25 tons. It is made of bronze and is supported on a 12-meter (approximately 39 feet) pedestal.
  • The monument represents Simón Bolívar as a man-condor, symbolizing greatness and the liberating spirit. The condor has holes instead of eyes, representing the blindness of life and existence.
  • The monument has breakages in the chest and wings, indicating the violence and wounds suffered by Bolívar and the homeland.
  • The Basilica Cathedral is near the monument, boasting an impressive European neo-Gothic design, and is a strong tourist attraction in the city.
  • The monument was sculpted by the Colombian artist Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt, who has also created several sculptures and murals in Manizales.

Altar de la Patria – Santa Marta, Magdalena

The Altar de la Patria (Altar of the Homeland) is a funerary monument built in 1930, declared a National Monument in 1958. It is part of the new buildings erected on the old estate where the liberator Simón Bolívar died in 1830.

It is one of the most emblematic monuments in Santa Marta, also one of the most visited by national and international tourists.

Location of Altar de la Patria

It is located in the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, in Santa Marta, Magdalena.

Curiosities of Altar de la Patría

  • The sculpture was built in white marble with a height of 80 meters (approximately 262 feet) and a width of 135 meters (approximately 443 feet).
  • The central sculpture represents the victorious Republic of Colombia stepping on the yoke of Spanish tyranny. Behind it is a door symbolizing Colombia as the entrance to South America.
  • In front of the Altar de la Patria is the Plaza de Banderas, where the flags of all the countries of America wave, expressing Simón Bolívar’s dream of continental unity.

Monument to the Old Shoes – Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar

The Monument to the Old Shoes was declared a National Monument in 1999. It is a sculpture that pays tribute to the poet Luis Carlos López, who wrote a poem called “To my native city,” in which he compares his love for Cartagena with the affection he has for old shoes.

Location of the Monument to the Old Shoes

It is located just behind the Castle of San Felipe in Barajas in the historic center of Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar.

Curiosities about the Monument to the Old Shoes

  • The Monument to the Old Shoes has become a symbol of music and culture in Cartagena and is one of the most photographed places in the city.
  • The original sculpture was created in 1957 and was later demolished due to its deteriorating condition. In 2001, a new bronze replica measuring 3 meters (approximately 9.8 feet) was inaugurated.
  • The monument has another replica in the city of Coral Gables, Florida, USA, as a symbol of twinning between Cartagena de Indias and that city.
  • Throughout the year, events and concerts are held around the monument to celebrate music and promote Cartagena’s culture. 
  • You can experience the complete experience of climbing the giant shoes and taking photographs.

Puente de Boyacá – Boyacá

The Puente de Boyacá, a small but monumental symbol of Colombia’s independence, was declared a National Monument in 1920. It stands as a witness to the brave victory in the Battle of Boyacá in 1819, a crucial confrontation in the struggle for the independence of South America from Spanish rule.

Location of Puente de Boyacá

It is located over the Colombian Andes on one side of the National Route, approximately 11.8 miles from Tunja, in the department of Boyacá.

Curiosities about Puente de Boyacá

  • The original bridge was smaller and narrower than the current one, with an arch shape. The current bridge is rebuilt, has a flat shape, is wider and longer, measuring approximately 55.8 feet high and 393.7 feet long.
  • The Battle of Boyacá was not fought only on the bridge but in an area of about 25 km2, where about 2,800 patriot soldiers faced 2,600 royalist soldiers (Spaniards).
  • The battle lasted about four hours, from 2 in the afternoon until sunset on August 7, 1819. The patriots captured more than 1500 royalist soldiers.
  • The bridge was not the main objective but to prevent the royalists from reaching Santa Fe de Bogotá, the capital of the viceroyalty, as the royalists intended to reclaim it.
  • The bridge was declared a Cultural Heritage of the Nation in 1920 due to its historical significance. It currently belongs to the Historical and Cultural District of Tunja, and it can be visited and walked on.

Vargas Swamp Lancers – Paipa, Boyacá

The Vargas Swamp Lancers was declared a National Monument in 1975. It is a sculpture commemorating the Battle of Pantano de Vargas in 1819, where 14 lancers, led by Colonel Juan José Rondón, made a decisive charge in favor of the Patriot army.

Location of the Vargas Swamp Lancers

It is located on Cerro El Cangrejo, above Pantano Vargas in the municipality of Paipa, 31 miles from Tunja, within the department of Boyacá.

Curiosities of the Vargas Swamp Lancers

  • The monument was inaugurated on July 25, 1969, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Pantano de Vargas.
  • Made of bronze, steel, and concrete, the monument has a height of approximately 108 feet. It consists of an allegorical figure of liberty at the top and three lancers on horseback at the base.
  • At the base of the monument, there is a commemorative plaque narrating the historical events and honoring the soldiers who fought in the battle.
  • The monument offers a panoramic view of Pantano de Vargas and its surroundings, making it a popular tourist destination in the Boyacá region. Additionally, tour guides are available.
  • You’ll notice that the part made of concrete has 36 steps, symbolizing the 36 years that Simón Bolívar had on the day of the battle (he turned 36 the day before the battle on July 24).
  • Every year on July 25, commemorative events are held at the monument, where thousands of tourists can witness military parades and ceremonies in honor of the soldiers.

Window to the World – Barranquilla, Atlántico

The Window to the World Monument was inaugurated on December 25, 2018, as part of the preparations for the Central American and Caribbean Games.

It is a modern structure that represents the industrial progress of Barranquilla in recent years and is one of the places where, yes or yes, you must take a picture.

Location of the Window to the World

It is located at the roundabout of the industrial corridor of Circunvalar on Paseo Bolívar, near the intersection with Vía 40, in Barranquilla, Atlántico.

Curiosities of the Window to the World

  • Construction involved 300 people and was completed in just 5 months.
  • Being the largest built monument in Colombia, it stands at a height of approximately 151 feet.
  • The Window to the World is a steel structure wrapped in glass sheets, shaped like an open window, symbolizing Barranquilla’s openness to the world.
  • A linear kilometer of glass was needed, as each glass has an area of approximately 21.5 square feet.
  • At the bottom of the structure, there is a timeline on a frosted glass detailing the history and evolution of Barranquilla, highlighting its importance to this day.
  • The location of the monument on Paseo Bolívar makes it a central meeting point for local residents and tourists visiting Barranquilla.
  • The colorful monument is illuminated at night with LED lights that change color, giving it a more striking appearance, especially for tourists to enjoy.

Monument “El Santísimo” – Floridablanca, Santander

The El Santísimo monument is a sculpture representing Jesus Christ, wearing a tunic and with a raised hand, symbolizing the blessing, protection, and faith of the people of Santander.

El Santísimo was inaugurated on August 6, 2016, coinciding with the anniversary of the Battle of Boyacá, a historic feat of Colombia’s independence.

El Santísimo is part of the Ecoparque Cerro del Santísimo, a tourism and religious project that began in 2011, with capacity for 6,000 visitors per day.

Location of the Monument “El Santísimo”

It is located in the municipality of Floridablanca on the hill of the Helechales village, approximately 10 miles from Bucaramanga, in the department of Santander.

Curiosities of the Monument “El Santísimo”

  • El Santísimo stands at approximately 125 feet in height and is made of 40 tons of unsaturated polymer, a material used in various modern monuments and constructions.
  • The monument has sparked controversy due to its name, as using a religious term for a public project has been questioned.
  • El Santísimo has attracted thousands of national and international tourists who want to see and photograph the imposing figure. The Eco Park offers other attractions such as trails, viewpoints of the metropolitan area of Bucaramanga, museums, restaurants, among others..

Monument to Santandereanidad – Parque Chicamocha, Santander

The Monument to Santandereanidad is a sculpture inaugurated in 2006 that honors the history, culture, and characteristic resistance of the people of Santander, the inhabitants of the Santander department.

Location of the Santandereanidad Monument

The Santandereanidad Monument is located in the Chicamocha National Park, in the municipality of Aratoca, approximately 35 miles from Bucaramanga, in the department of Santander.

Curiosities of the Santandereanidad Monument

  • The monument is constructed in the shape of a tobacco leaf, symbolizing the resistance and economy of Santanderans during the colonial era.
  • The monument points in the direction of the town of Socorro in Santander, approximately 37 miles away, where the Commune Revolution took place in 1870, an armed uprising against Spanish rule.
  • The monument’s size is 55 meters long and 22 meters wide, equivalent to approximately 180 feet in length and 72 feet in width.
  • The monument is considered one of the most representative of Santanderan culture and identity and has been declared a cultural heritage of the department.
  • The Chicamocha Park, where the monument is located, is a strong tourist point that receives 600 thousand visitors a year from all over the world.
  • The monument is situated atop a mountain, at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level, which is approximately 5,249 feet.

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About Author

Frank

Frank

Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia.I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia.For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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