The small town of Biblian is just past Azogues as you're heading towards Canar from Cuenca. I didn't see any signs pointing the way to this place, or even promoting it, but hey....it's high on a hill, so I just pointed the car in that direction and drove up, up, up and soon I was there.
I even found it difficult to find much information on the place via Google, aside from plenty of photos. But, what is the story behind it? What are the facts? In a nutshell, this is what I was able to dig up:
It is called the Santuario de la Virgen del Rocio Biblian. The area had severe droughts in the late 1800's, killing animials and crops. The people of the village carried an image of the Virgin to the top of the hill in hopes she would intervene. Rains showed up. They built the sanctuary on that site, which was finished in 1908. That's it in a nutshell, end of history lesson for today.
As with any large cathedral, it never ceases to amaze me the feats that were accomplished in building such a structure. In this case, it was constructed into the side of a very steep hill. The structure is wide, but not very deep. As you'll see in the photos below, the side of the hill can actually be seen inside the sanctuary, behind the altar.
There are 6 difinitive levels:
- Level 1 - Foundation
- Level 2 - Mausoleum
- Level 3 - Mausoleum
- Level 4 - Sanctuary
- Level 5 - Dome
- Level 6 - Pyramidal cap on top of the dome
Outside, cobblestone stairways flank both sides of the cathedral where you can ascend to the level of the dome and peer down into the sanctuary. I got to enjoy traversing from one side to the other via narrow (2 - 3 ft wide) catwalks where the huge lights were mounted to illuminate the cathedral at night, overlooking the town below. I say "got to enjoy" because there was nothing to restrict my access, much like I found when I travelled in Europe. Walk along the top of a hundreds-of-years old rock walls enclosing a city without handrails or other protective devices? No problem!! No fears of lawsuits, prohibitive insurance premiums, no liability waivers, etc etc that typically cause these kinds of accesses to be shut down in America. It's your decision, and you take the responsibility for YOUR decision!!!
Enjoy the pics!!
|On the way up.|
|From the parking area.|
|Looking down on the town of Biblian from the stairway heading up to the sanctuary.|
|Mausoleum below the sanctuary.|
|A few spaces remain available, but ACT NOW, as they won't last!!!!|
|Figurine at a water basin (note faucet at the bottom).|
|The 'cat walk' (as I call it) along the front of the cathedral.|
|Looking down from the cat walk to my car below.|
|Tilting my camera up (through the hole in the door) to see the dome above the sanctuary and further up into the pyramidal cap over the dome.|
|More cat walk.|
|Sure seems older than 1908. (nice touch Dano...adding the blue trash can!!).|
|The external side of the dome and pyramidal cap.|
|Looking up the outside of the dome.|