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© ® 2003 IpiTIMES.com Artur Coral-Folleco    -    OCTOBER 2003    -   Manhattan, New York, USA.

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IPIALES
"THE GREEN CLOUDS' CITY
"

Ipiales, the last Colombian town before the Ecuadorian border, is an interesting, busy commercial centre driven by the contraband trade across the frontier.

There are many things to see, the big colourful Saturday market, where the campesinos from sur-rounding villages come to sell and buy goods. The Banco de Ia República has a collection of pottery from the pre-Columbian Indian groups from around the region on display. You can also pop into the Catedral on the Plaza de Ia Independencia; in the left-hand aisle is a vivid sculptured representation of souls burning in hell.


Interior of the Ipiales' Cathedral. Photo by Javier Coral. Sept. 2003

A short side trip to Las Lajas is a must. Santuario de Nuestra Señora de las Lajas is a Gothic-style church built on a bridge which spans a spectacular deep gorge of the Guáitara River, seven km south-east of Ipiales.


Interior of the Ipiales' Cathedral. Photo by Javier Coral. Sept. 2003

The church was erected to commemorate the appearance of the Virgin Mary; legend has it that an image of the Virgin appeared in the mid-18th century on an enormous vertical rock about 45 metres above the river.


First and Second Chapels of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Las Lajas in Ipiales.
© ® IpiTIMES. Artur Coral-Folleco's Pictures Archive. ~1803

The first chapel was constructed in 1803, then replaced by another. Today's church, designed by an architect from Nariño, Lucindo Espinoza, was built between 1916 and 1948, and is an unusual construction.


Sanctuary's construction above the Guaitara's River

The church is set on a bridge up against the cliff in such a way that the rock with the image is preserved as its high altar. The Virgin is accompanied by Santo Domingo and San Francisco. Pilgrims from all over Colombia and Ecuador come here all year round.


Construction of the Sanctuary's bridge

Some local sources maintain that this is the most visited religious sanctuary in the Americas. Many pilgrims have left thanksgiving plaques along the alley leading to the church. Note the number of miraculous occurrences which are attributed to the Virgin.


Around Ipiales. Photo by Dr. Servio Caicedo.


 

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Des Academies de Science de Paris et Créteil, France

 

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© ® 2003 Arturo Coral-Folleco
Des Academies de Sciences de Paris et Créteil, France

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