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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day Trip - Biblian

Having driven past Azogues several times, I have seen this castle-like structure perched high on a hillside and wondered what the heck it was.    Only one way to find out...hop in the car and go...which is what I did one recent afternoon.

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
The mausoleums are very shallow with only a few layers of crypts.  I don't know if there's any rule to determine who gets to be entombed here (ie; public vs church parishoners vs church elders, etc), but there were some relatively recent burials based on the dates.  Space is limited.

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!!

Dano


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.

The doors were closed but there a couple of missing panes of glass, so I stuck my camera through and took these interior shots.  Good thing I didn't drop the camera or I would've been toast.   Notice at the front of the sanctuary, the exposed hillside in which the support pillars are ensconced.

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.

2 comments:

  1. I came across your site on south of zero. a hardworking blooger for sure is south of zero.

    I think that you take very good pictures. My wife and I are planning to visit Equador and possibly move there from Mexico which is really not working out for us.

    This is mainly because our access to nature is very limited here since the campo is no longer safe. We miss the opportunity to just go out for a walk of perhaps even camping.

    You seem the adventurous sort. Is nature accessible there where you are and what opportunities are there for camping and this type of activity. Obviously, one should feel safe while being outside of the town, not from animals, this is a given, but criminals etc. that here in Mexico ahve turned the outside of cities into little hells.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful photos! Reinforces my decision to move to Cuenca which I hope to do by June

    ReplyDelete

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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