Zipaquirá was formerly known as Chicaquicha, which in the indigenous language means “Foot of the Zipa” (Zipa was the chief of the tribe), and it was located near Zipa Mountain in the spot now known as the old town. The name “CHICAQUICHA” means “our large enclosure” or “CHIPAQUICHA” meaning “Foot of our father” or “CHICAQUIRA” or “CHICAQUICA” which is “Foot of the Zipa” or “City of the Zipa”.

By interpreting the names and their meanings, Reverend Father Roberto María Tisnés summarizes it in the name “CHICAQUICHA” “the foot of the father-in-law or the son-in-law”, permanent site of the Zipa “CHIPAQUICHA”, “The foot of our father”. The name is taken from the indigenous people living at the foot of Zipa mountain, its origin in the native tongue meaning: “city of our father”, where the muiscas people lived on the high ground above the salt mine called “Old Town” and known today as Barrio Santiago Perez, approximately 200 meters above the current city’s location.

On July 18, 1600, the new town of Zipaquirá was founded on the Pacanquen site; on that date the judge Luis Henríquez proclaimed the settlement incorporating the Indians of the Zipaquirá, Suavita, Tenemequisa, Golaque, Yaita, Cogua, Nemeza, Peza, Pacho and Tibitó divisions with a total of 618 tributaries.

A few years after its Spanish foundation it became Zipaquirá, capital of the township of the same name that included the settlements of: Cajicá, Cogua, Cota, Cucunubá, Chía, Fúquene, Gachancipá, Nemocón, Pacho, Simijaca, Sopó, Suesca, Susa, Suta, Tabio, Tausa, Tocancipá, Ubaté and Zipaquirá..

In the Zipa empire three cities were home to the largest political and religious hierarchies: Funsa, Chía and Guatavita, but only one of them held the economical power: Chicaquicha or Cipaquirá, due to their production of the most sought after and necessary commodity: salt. This is therefore where the Chibcha trade was established in Cundinamarca. Salt was the only currency for trading: it was exchanged by emeralds, fruits from warmer lands, fish, blankets, and merchandise from other climates of regions both near and far. Salt trade remained important for many years, and later due to the intense traffic between Zipaquirá and the towns of the plateau and Santander, roads and railroads were built to facilitate communication between these towns, bringing honey to trade by salt at its furnaces and warehouses.

Historically, Zipaquirá is the best city in Colombia with all its splendor and natural beauty; its tourism, religion, history, culture and the great warmth of its people. Colombian cities each have their own history, but the history of Zipaquirá is well known both within the country and worldwide as it has been of interest to important historians and international critics.

It is the salt capital of Colombia, with its current salt mine offering the beautiful salt cathedral that has been named Colombia’s first wonder in 2006. Zipaquirá is located in the center of the country 49 km (30 miles) from Bogotá, which is 45 minutes by road. It has an average temperature of 14°C (57 F), and covers an area of 197 square kilometers of rural and urban areas where approximately 120,000 people live at an altitude of 2,652 meters (8700’) above sea level. Its main attraction is the Salt Cathedral located in the salt park, an ideal spot to appreciate one of our country’s most impressive engineering feats.

Visitors can also see the Comuneros Square, the Diocesan Cathedral, the Episcopal House, the Municipal Palace, the home of the García Aráos, the Guillermo Quevedo Museum, the Archeological Museum, the Chapel of Sorrows, the train station, La Esperanza Park, among others.