Undoubtedly a must see in Bogotá, the Hill of Monserrate houses a lovely chapel and sports breathtaking views of Colombia’s capital from on high. Read on for a complete visitor’s guide to Monserrate Hill in Bogotá and learn how to plan your visit today.
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Visitors Guide to Monserrate – Contents
- History of Monserrate
- How to Get to the Top of Monserrate
- What to See at Monserrate
- Planning Your Visit to Monserrate
History of Monserrate
The Cerro de Monserrate dominates the skyline above the center of Bogotá. The hill was considered sacred by the indigenous Muisca people, in part because the sun rises directly behind the mountain on the Summer Solstice.
Spanish colonists began climbing the mountain as a pilgrimage in the 1620s. Eventually a group of men received permission to build a small hermitage for religious retreats atop the hill. They decided to devote their sanctuary to the Morena Virgin, whose sanctuary in Spain was located in the mountains of Montserrat outside of Barcelona. Therefore, the hill took its name as Monserrate.
The sanctuary also contained a shrine with a sculpture of Jesus Christ after having been beaten and fallen. Known as “El Se˜ñor Caído (or Fallen Lord),” this sculpture’s fame soon surpassed that of the Morena Virgin and became the main attraction for pilgrims.
Today, the church still houses the statue and remains a place for religious pilgrimage as well as one of Bogotá’s most famous tourist attractions.
How to Get to the Top of Monserrate Hill
You have 3 options for how to get to the top of Cerro Monserrate.
Option 1: Funicular Train Car
The funicular train car is how we’ve gone up both times we have visited Monserrate. It operates from 5:30 to 11:45 am. It takes about 5 minutes or so to climb the hill in what feels almost like a slow motion roller coaster.
Option 2: Cable Car
You can also get to the top of the hill of Monserrate by hanging cable car. The cable cars operate from 11:45 am to 12 midnight. I’m sure the views you get from the cars are spectacular.
Option 3: Walk
You can also take a walking path up the hill. This option is of course for those who want to get some good exercise during their visit to the Cerro Monserrate. It opens at 5 am and the last entry to ascend the hill is at 1 pm. After 4 pm, you cannot descend on the walking path. It is closed on Tuesdays for maintenance.
What to See Atop Monserrate Hill
Walk the Stations of the Cross
Ok, once you are at the top, don’t do like we did and head up the left side of the path towards the chapel. Follow the right hand side of the path, where you can walk through the 14 Stations of the Cross, which heads up to the chapel at a much more comfortable incline. There are also some pretty gardens along the way and ample bird sighting chances.
The church continues to house the shrine to El Señor Caído. Inside, you can see the ornate decorations as well as the sculpture of El Señor Caído.
Enjoy the Incredible Views of Bogotá
Alongside the chapel atop the hill of Monserrate, you can get some incredible views of Bogotá. The hill stands 3,152 meters (10,341 feet) above sea level, and the city’s buildings look small so far below.
Colombia’s largest city, and one of the 5 largest in the Western Hemisphere, you can see the city stretching across the plateau below. Seeing it from so high puts the city’s size in perspective. It’s a very pretty sight seeing it nestled amongst the mountains. We have only been in the morning, but the sunset over the city is also supposed to be spectacular.
You can also get a view of the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the adjacent Cerro de Guadalupe.
Have a Coffee, Hot Chocolate, or Snack at the Restaurant
There is a restaurant on site next to the chapel. A coffee or hot chocolate is a great accompaniment to the chilliness of Bogotá, particularly if it’s a cloudy day. You can also get an arepa or other snacks, or even have lunch.
Check Out the Handicrafts
There is also a row of artisan handicraft shops behind the chapel. While most of these things you can find cheaper elsewhere in the city, you may want to pick up a souvenir or two here.
Planning Your Visit to Monserrate
Hours and Prices
The park and sanctuary are open 365 days a year from 5:30 am to 12 midnight. If you have a preferred manner of going up or down, be sure to check out the schedules noted above for the different ways to get to the top of Monserrate. Prices for each are listed below: (*Last updated July 2019)
- Roundtrip Monday to Saturday: 21,000 pesos.
- Roundtrip Sunday: 12,000 pesos.
- Note you can buy one way tickets if you plan to come down a different way, the prices are slightly more than half of the above.
Tips on Your Visit to Monserrate
- The lines can get long, but they generally move pretty quickly.
- The Christmas and Easter lights at Monserrate are supposed to be beautiful, so if you’re visiting around the holidays you may want to plan to visit at night (or to see the sunset and hang out for the lights).
- The holidays will of course also be the most crowded times.
- It is up high, so even on the warmer days in Bogotá, it’s a good idea to take along a jacket.
- Keeping with the above, the altitude may make you breath a bit harder than normal (especially on the walk up to the chapel). If you struggle with altitude sickness, it may be best to wait a day or two after you’ve adjusted to the city’s altitude before going up even higher to Monserrate. Regardless, take it slow, and remember the incline of the path with the Stations of the Cross is easier than going straight to the chapel.
- Pets are allowed for an additional fee.
Double check this info and find out more information at Monserrate’s Website (in English).
Tours to Monserrate
It is not necessary to do Monserrate with a tour. You can just take a taxi to the foot of the hill and head up. However, a tour can be a decent value if you want to fit in a lot in one day while also learning more about the city with a guide. Below are a couple full day tour options that include a visit to the Cerro Monserrate.
Option 1: Monserrate + La Candelaria + Gold Museum + Botero Museum (full day)
This tour takes you on a walking tour of La Candelaria historic district in Cartagena with stops at the Gold Museum, Botero Museum in addition to going up the Hill of Monserrate. It includes private transportation to and from your hotel as well as all admission fees.
Option 2: Monserrate + Gold Museum (half day)
This half day tour will see you visit the Gold Museum and then go up to the top of Monserrate. You will have a private bilingual guide along the way for both. It includes transportation to most hotels as well as admission fees.
Option 3: Monserrate + La Candelaria + Gold Museum + Salt Cathedral (full day)
This tour packs in a ton in one day. It includes the same as the tour above but also a visit to the Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral located outside of Bogotá. If you’re looking to get as much as possible out of a day and see the most famous attractions of Bogotá, this is a good option.
There you have it a complete visitors guide to Bogotá’s Monserrate Hill. I hope you enjoyed it and if you decide to go yourself, it helped you plan your visit.
Cheers and Happy Exploring!
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Traveling Colombia? Be sure to check out these other great destinations:
Palomino, Colombia’s Hippest Beach Town
Minca, Colombia’s Lush, Mountain Town
Tayrona National Park
See more in the Other Destinations Section
Planning a to explore Cartagena too?
Check out the following posts to help plan:
Insider’s Guide to the Best Areas to Stay in Cartagena
Complete Packing List for Cartagena
Top Things to Do in Cartagena