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The mighty Monserrate mountain in Bogota is one of the top things to see and do when in Colombia’s capital city. Monserrate is hard to miss — at 10,341 feet above sea level, it dominates the Bogota skyline and is known as the most important symbol of Bogota. While the mountain offers a great view of the city and the Andes Mountains, it’s also home to a rich and ancient history. Here are eight cool facts about Monserratte to brush up on before you visit:
1. The Name ‘Monserrate’
Monserrate, Bogota, is named after the mountain with the same name that lies near to Barcelona, Spain, which is home to an ancient monastery carved into the Catalonia mountains. Monserrat in Spain is one of the most important places of worship in the country. Equally, Monserrate, Bogota, is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Colombia.
2. Church On Top of the Mountain
The famous Monserrate church was built in 1640 in honor of the shrine to the Virgin of Monserrat, or ‘Our Lady of Monserrat’s’ that was located in Barcelona’s Montserrat. The church is home to a carved crucifix and statue of Jesus which is known as ‘El Señor Caído’, or ‘The Fallen Lord’. Thousands upon thousands of Colombians and worldwide citizens visit the carving and statue yearly as part of a pilgrimage.
3. Place of Pilgrimage
Monserrate is an important place of worship and many pilgrims are known to climb the mountain either on their knees or barefoot, as a show of faith. Pilgrims and nature lovers alike can hike to the top of the Monserrate mountain. It’s said that once you’ve reached the top and soaked in views of the city, you’re likely to be overcome with a sense of relaxation and reflection. If you’re walking, it takes around an hour (don’t forget to download a Colombian soundtrack to listen to along the hike!). For those who don’t want to walk, you can also hop on a cable car or a funicular. The cable car takes around four minutes, while the funicular takes five minutes.
4. The Ancient Muisca People
Monserrate’s history dates back to the Pre-Colombian era when the city was inhabited by the Muisca, who were indigenous people that spoke the ancient Chibcha language. The Muisca’s main belief system derived from astronomy, with the sun and the moon being central to the flow of life. At Monserrate, the Muisca worshipped the solar god of Sué after discovering that the sun rose directly behind the mountain. They built a temple on top of Monserrate, and it has been a sacred place ever since. The indigenous people called Monserrate ‘quijicha caca’, which means ‘grandmother’s foot.’
5. The Catholic Era
Once the Spanish arrived in Colombia and invaded the indigenous lands, the Muisca’s temples were destroyed and replaced with Catholic buildings, including the Pre-Colombian temple at the top of Monserrate.
6. Things to Do at the Summit
After exploring the mountain’s church, you can meander along cobbled streets and head to one of two restaurants, souvenir shops, or even browse in a market. There are also tourist facilities.
7. Perfect Place to Watch the Sunset
From the top of Monserrate, all of downtown Bogotá, south Bogotá and much of north Bogota are visible facing west, which means it’s the perfect place to see the sunset over the city.
8. Eat at one of Bogota’s Best Restaurants
Restaurante Casa Santa Clara, which sits on top of Monserrate Mountain, is one of the best places to dine in the city. With unbeatable panoramic views and a classic menu, it’s a dining experience you won’t forget.