Las Lajas Sanctuary is a basilica church located in the southern Colombian Department of Nariño, in the municipality of Ipiales, and built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River. The present church was built in Gothic Revival style between 1916 and 1949. Although the site was dedicated a minor basilica by the Catholic Church in 1954, non-religious visitors can still enjoy the dramatic setting and neo-Gothic architecture. The massive church sits 150 feet high over the river below, and its turrets contrast elegantly with the green cliffs and cascading waterfall, which are visible from the arched stone bridge.
In 1754, an Amerindian woman and her daughter found themselves caught in a brutal storm. Hiding out from the weather in the gorge, the women felt a force calling to them, and to their amazement looked up and saw the image of the Virgin Mary on the rocks above. At that moment, the woman’s daughter was simultaneously cured of her inability to hear and speak.