The Rock of Guatape

 | Grace Higgins
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In the Colombian department of Antioquia lodged between the towns of Guatape and El Penol you will find an enormous boulder known as The Rock Of Guatape. Or if you are from Penol, then you may refer to it as the Rock of Penol – just depends on which town you are from.

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It stands out towering above the grassy plains and lakes, it has always been a mysterious place that has immense cultural value and heritage. The Tahamies who lived in the area before the arrival of the Spaniards used to worship the rock. And even today, scientists are unsure how the rock was formed or where it has come from. It is very smooth which is why most believe it rose up out of the ground during the forming of what today is the Cordillera Occidental mountain range in Colombia.

The rock is over 650 feet or 200 meters tall and is made up a mix of minerals such as quartz, feldspar, and mica. It is estimated to weigh over 10 million tons and that the boulder is over 70 million years old. Which means are certain points this rock would have been underwater when for example Colombia was submerged during the Mesozoic Era.

It has held significant importance over the years in the local culture, it was worshipped by the Tahamies which was a South American agricultural tribe that had chieftains. It is not really known what the Tahamies believed the rock was or why they thought it was divine, but they definitely were impressed by its grandeur. It may be that since there is nothing like the rock in the region, they could have thought it had an otherworldly origin.

In 1954, the rock was scaled by two friends who made it to the top by using wooden planks that they kept moving and inserting into the cracks of the rock formations. Later a whole series of stairs was added, to allow people to climb to the top of the rock without needing specialized equipment.

Today the journey is a popular tourist attraction allowing you to have a bird’s eye view of the region, that is of course if you are able to walk up the 656 steps.