…this is a good question but after visiting the less known salt mine in Nemocon, I am totally convinced that it is more beautiful than the famous salt cathedral in Zipaquira! Both sights are about 1,5 hours drive from Bogota – so the driving time really does not make a difference.
Most probably the reason why you want to visit the salt cathedral in Zipaquira is because it can be found in every single travel guide where it is promoted as a must-see destination in Colombia – but unfortunately nobody talks about the salt mine Nemocon. Of course the salt cathedral in Zipaquira is an amazing sight and you will be impressed by walking through the different paths passing by many crosses – all lit in different colors!
But I must say the salt mine in Nemocon totally surprised me and for me, it is even more beautiful as it has much more to offer – as it is not “just” a cathedral! The salt mine is still active and has 3 levels. You walk along different tunnels 80 meters underground and can see a great variety of different sights with various salt lakes, wishing ponds and salt formations. The most stunning visual effects are produced by many brine mirrors dissolving in the salt rocks. Furthermore you can find a small cathedral inside the mine and you can see the sceneries of the movie “La 33” which was filmed here in 2013. “La 33” is the movie about the accident of the mine workers in Chile many years ago and the main parts of the movie inside the mine where filmed in the salt mine Nemocon – so Antonio Banderas who had a leading role spent quite some time in this salt mine. On the 1,5 hour tour our guide told us many interesting facts about the five-century-old mine.
The salt cathedral in Zipaquira might be the right place for religious tourists with its 14 stations of crosses which show the way of Jesus history for about 380m while being 180m below the ground. But unfortunately it has turned into a shopping centre with many many different souvenir shops (like hundreds!!!) at the end of the tour which I found quite sad but I guess these are the “bad consequences” of growing tourism.
Last but not least a fact that might help you to make a decision – the entrance fee is half the price in Nemocon than in Zipaquira (local English speaking guides are available in both places – but in Zipaquira you pay additionally for that or just use the audioguide)!
So if you are thinking about visiting one of these impressing sights, bear in mind if you just want to check out all the famous places of your guide book or if you want to discover the unexplored jewels of this beautiful country! My recommendation definitely is to the visit the hidden treasure which is the salt mine Nemocon in Colombia!