Mists permitting, you’ll be able to see the gleaming white Basílica del Señor de Monserrate high above the city, beckoning from the thickly forested mountains that form Bogota’s spectacular backdrop. Originally built as a monastery in 1657, it is no wonder that this glorious spot has been a site of pilgrimage ever since.
The original stone path marked by statues depicting the 14 Stations of the Cross still leads from the colonial Candelaria district up to the sanctuary. It is a steep climb to a chilly 3152m (10,339ft) still used by pilgrims (and exercise buffs), particularly on weekends and religious holidays. Most tourists take advantage of either the funicular, a steeply pitched train, or teleferico, a cable car system, which both make the trip inexpensively throughout the day. If you do choose to walk, note that there have been muggings, so it might not be the best choice if you’re alone with an expensive camera.
And you’ll definitely want your camera with you, as the fantastic city views are worth remembering. If the mountain mists pour in over your visit, obscuring the city below, you’ll still enjoy exploring the whitewashed sanctuary and its unusual icons, the Black Virgin and Fallen Christ. Wandering through the simple yet inspiring compound, with its cobbled plazas and red tiled roofs, all wrapped in luxuriant high Andean forest, is a treat no matter what the weather. Two upscale onsite restaurants offer the option of enjoying a little more ambiance with your visit.