The most important building in Manizales is the Catedral de Manizales, also known by its much longer official name, Catedral Basílica Metropolitana Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Manizales. It’s located on Plaza de Bolívar. Construction began in 1929 and was completed 30 years later. It is one of the most important cathedrals in Colombia.
The cathedral was designed by French architect Julien Polti to correspond to some of the historical churches in France. It has a tower raising 106m into the sky, making it the tallest church tower in Colombia.
One of the unique features of this cathedral is the fact it has a nice café on the 2nd level, reached via elevator. Tazzioli Café serves coffee and sweets overlooking Plaza de Bolívar below.
Guided tours of the cathedral are available for COP$10,000 per person (as of May 2015). Tours are in Spanish and last 90 minutes. They are well worth it because they climb to the top of the cathedral’s tower for the most incredible views of Manizales. Tickets are bought on the east side of the cathedral next to the elevator and start at the entrance to the café.
The first part of the tour lasts a half hour and is a lecture about the history of the cathedral and its construction. The guide goes over unique details of the architecture and talks about previous churches that once stood on the site. The guide also talks about the church bells and stained glass windows.
Next, we took a quick walk behind the altar to a vertigo-inducing outdoor staircase leading to the tower.
Once inside the tower, a seemingly endless bright orange spiral staircase winds its way to the very top. Next to it sits the old wooden staircase. In the photo, the old staircase is to the right.
It was a long way to the top but the views were stunning. After just a few minutes at the top, we made our way back down to the ground floor to end the tour.