Complete Guide to the 17 Heritage Towns of Colombia

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

Last updated on May 22nd, 2021 at 02:32 am

Dear Reader
My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!

In Colombia, there is a club of 17 cities that have been classified as Colombia’s Cultural Heritage. In these places, you can travel back in time and marvel at buildings on cobbled streets that have outlasted history.

A visit to one or more of these cities is essential for those interested in architecture and history.

Introduction

A visit to Colombia opens up a multitude of possibilities and destinations. In addition to the big cities, the wonderful and very different nature, there are also a variety of colonial towns.

There are a total of 17 towns that have been declared as the nation’s Cultural Heritage. In these destinations, you can find the influence of the Spanish Empire on the culture and architecture of the country, which at the time was known as Nueva Granada and was a colony of Spain.

All of these towns were founded by the Spanish hundreds of years ago, some even dating back to the 16th century. These places still preserve the colonial architecture that the Spaniards brought with them with their colonial conquest of the country.

You can find cobbled paths, white houses with high ceilings and covered with clay tiles, as well as majestic buildings that look like temples. In the historic towns, you can also find churches that were built hundreds of years ago, houses that have remained unchanged, and beautiful structures such as bridges.

Villa de Leyva

Villa de Leyva is undoubtedly the most famous and touristic historical city in the country. With its culture, traditions and, above all, colonial architecture, Villa de Leyva earned its status as a national monument in 1954.

The city was founded in 1512 and is located in the department Boyacá. Visiting the place is like traveling back in time. Colombians love Villa de Leyva and especially the residents of the capital visit the place often, especially on public holidays.

Things to do and see in Villa de Leyva

This beautiful city is not only characterized by its history, but also by the multitude of sights. In addition to the historical structures within the city, there are also beautiful landscapes in the area.

We recommend the following sights for those interested in history:

Churches

Especially for religious tourism, but not only, there are some very beautiful churches in Villa de Leyva. For example, the Parish Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Church of the Virgin of Carmen, the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites, the Monastery of the Carmelites and the Cloister of St. Augustine.

Villa de Leyva Colombia

Monquirá Archaeological Park

I definitely recommend a visit to the Archaeological Park. There you can find traces of the pre-Colombian culture. This place is also known as “El Infiernito” and is only 15 minutes from the city area. At that time, the facility served the Muiscas as an astronomical center.

heritage towns guide

Cave Paintings

Traces of pre-Colombian culture can be found around 7 kilometers from Villa de Leyva, on the Sáchica River. There you can admire cave paintings of the Chibchas, an earlier indigenous culture.

Villa de Leyva’s Paleontological Museum

The Paleontological Museum is around 1.5 km from Villa de Leyva. Various fossils of various creatures are exhibited. Millions of years ago they lived in this area, which was then underwater. The highlight is a fossil over 7 meters (23 feet) long, which is estimated to be over 110 million years old. The museum currently has 441 exhibits.

The ostrich farm

An ostrich farm is only 15 minutes away from the city. There you learn a lot about these huge birds and can also feed them.

Ain Karim vineyard

The Ain Karim wine production facility is only a 15-minute drive from town. Wine production in Colombia is a very interesting venture due to the climatic conditions. In some years, grapes can even be harvested twice and wine can be produced.

Definitely worth a visit. Not only do you learn everything about wine production in these unique local climatic conditions, but you can also taste the wine produced on-site. In addition, local delicacies are offered, which can be enjoyed outdoors like at a picnic. Depending on the situation, you should have a driver with you who does not drink alcohol.

Santo Ecce Homo Monastery

The Santo Ecce Homo Monastery was founded in 1620 by the Dominican Order and is located around 20 minutes from Villa de Leyva. A visit is worthwhile due to the colonial architecture and its beautiful gardens.

The exhibition is very informative, but there is still room for improvement in terms of quality.

heritage towns guide

El Cárcamo

This old building was inaugurated in 1599. It is only 8 km from Villa de Leyva. When it was built, it was the most important farm in the municipality and the home of the hero of independence Juan José Neira. It’s a place full of history!

Theme park 1900

The theme park is located around 8 kilometers from Villa de Leyva. You travel decades into the past there and find various exhibitions. Among other things, you can find different cars from the 20th century.

Iguaque Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

This area is one of the 56 national parks of Colombia and covers an area of ​​around 68 square kilometers (42 square miles). The park extends to a height of over 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) above sea level.

The entrance to the park can be reached in around 30 minutes by car from Villa de Leyva. On a hike, you can reach the unique paramos (treeless, alpine highland steppes), which can only be found in a few countries in South America. In addition, the local lagoons are an absolute highlight.

The area used to be sacred land of the Muiscas, who settled the area hundreds of years ago.

Due to the altitude and the topography, you should prepare yourself with appropriate shoes and weatherproof clothing. We recommend a guided tour here. The sacred lagoon of Iguaque is the highlight and can be reached within 3 hours on a hike.

Pozos Azules

About 3 km from Villa de Leyva there are 6 small lakes, which delight the eye with their blue colors. The lakes are artificial, but offer a wonderful contrast to the desert-like area.

Villa de Leyva’s desert

The desert is in the immediate vicinity of the blue lakes and the ostrich farm. Activities such as motocross or mountain biking are very popular here. Furthermore, fossils can still be found here today.

Festivals

If you like good celebrations, Villa de Leyva offers a variety of great celebrations. The Festival of Lights is celebrated on December 7th and 8th, and the Immaculate Conception is honored with beautiful fireworks. Various fireworks masters also compete to see who shoots the most beautiful fireworks in the sky. The best thing about this event is that it’s free. Do not miss it!

The traditional kite festival takes place every August. This event lasts for three days and brings hundreds of people together in the city’s Plaza Mayor. At this festival, children, families and experts meet and compete for the best kite.

For lovers of gastronomy, “el Encuentro de Saberes y Sabores” is certainly a good option. The event takes place in mid-May. The focus is always on recipes from the Boyaca region.

During events, Villa de Leyva is usually full and bursting at the seams. If you are not a fan of large crowds, it is better to avoid the city during these times.

Christmas tour Boyacá Colombia

How to get to Villa de Leyva

Bogota is around 165 kilometers (103 miles) from Villa de Leyva. It takes around 3-4 hours to get there. The travel time mostly depends on the traffic chaos in Bogota.

Recommended hotels in Villa de Leyva

Some excellent options to stay at Villa de Leyva are:

Monguí

For many, Monguí is the most beautiful city in Boyacá. The place is also known for the production of soccer balls. Thanks to its colonial architecture, this place was declared a national monument in 1975.

Monguí was founded in 1601 and is notable for its beautiful cobblestone walkways and colorful architecture.

The city is on a hill, so the temperatures are cool. You should definitely pack some warm clothes. Alternatively, you can buy one of the traditional ruanas on site. This garment is one of the most distinctive garments of Colombia and the region. These poncho-like cloaks are locally produced and provide excellent insulation.

heritage towns guide

Things to do and see in Monguí

There are several monuments of colonial architecture and religious significance in Mongui. We definitely recommend visiting the following attractions:

Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Monguí

Cra. 3 #42

This basilica has been a national monument since 1975 and is a place steeped in history. It was built in the 18th century. Thanks to its beautiful Romanesque design and history, it is one of the main tourist attractions in Monguí.

Franciscan Convent Museum

Cra. 3 #42

Located in the same spot as the aforementioned basilica, the monastery is a must-see for history lovers. It was declared a national monument in 1975. Various objects of the Franciscan order from the 18th century are exhibited.

Colonial Bridge Real Calicanto

Cra. 3 #4-89

This bridge is a must for lovers of street photography. This was built in the 18th century by the indigenous Sanoha tribe in order to be able to transport stones for the construction of the small basilica. The bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in the municipality.

heritage towns guide

Football Museum

Cra. 3 #4-89

One of Monguí’s specialties is the production of footballs. In the museum, you can get to know the entire manufacturing process. You can also take part in interesting workshops locally.

There are also wonderful natural landscapes for nature lovers, such as:

Ocetá Paramo

The paramo is about 1 hour from Monguí and is considered the most beautiful paramo in the world. A walk takes around 3 hours. In the Paramo, you will find various plants, animals, waterfalls, springs, and other natural wonders. Photographers will enjoy visiting Ocetá.

Peña de Otí

Just 10 minutes from Monguí you will find a place full of nature and history. At the Peña de Otí, the stones for the construction of the basilica were extracted. There you will also find the court of the witches. According to tradition, sorceresses are supposed to live there. An excursion there is crowned with a lookout point, which reveals the view over the beautiful landscape.

How to get to Monguí

If you plan to travel from Bogotá, you will have to calculate an approximate distance of 223 km (139 miles) and your journey will take approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes (depending on traffic).

Recommended hotels in Monguí

Some excellent options for staying in Monguí are:

Barichara

Barichara is considered the most beautiful city in Colombia and is also the ideal destination for architecture and amateur photographers. The colonial-style stone constructions are generally kept in a beautiful shade of yellow. If you have enough time on your trip, you should definitely pay a visit to Barichara.

Barichara was founded in the department of Santander in 1705 and has retained its colonial style to this day. For this reason, the city was declared a national monument in 1975.

heritage towns guide

Things to do and see in Barichara

The city is not characterized by a large number of attractions. Due to its unique architecture and history, we recommend visiting the following sights:

The Emilio Pradilla Gonzalez House of Culture

Cl. 5 #62

The beautiful house museum with colonial architecture is located in the historic center of the municipality. Various photographs, colonial objects and typical costumes are exhibited.

Aquileo Parra’s birth house

Cra. 1 #66

The house museum is dedicated to former president Aquileo Parra. He ruled between 1876 and 1878. Barichara was the home of the ex-president.

Cemetery

Cra. 7 #21

Curiously, the city’s cemetery also attracts tourists. Its beautiful architecture with its stone constructions is, in the words of a tourist, “a place that does not convey sadness, but calm”.

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Cra. 7 #51

The cathedral is located right in front of the main square of Barichara and is characterized by its history and beautiful architecture. This church, consecrated in 1838, has a beautiful facade that glows bright yellow in the morning and ochre in the afternoon.

The interior of the church also has a striking design. It consists of huge columns and the altar is covered with gold sheets.

We recommend the following activities for nature lovers:

The Royal Road to Guane

Cra. 7 #51

The Camino Real is a walk steeped in history. The royal road leads to the town of Guane. The stone path was inaugurated in the 19th century and served to connect the capitals. It is one of the best-preserved royal roads in the country currently.

A walk from Barichara to Guanes takes between 2 and 3 hours. On the walk, you will be rewarded with beautiful landscapes and lots of nature.

Móncora Biopark

The Biopark is only 5 minutes by car from the historic center of Barichara and is ideal for nature lovers. This approximately 7-hectare park was created with the aim of protecting and preserving the dry and tropical forests typical of the region.

You can find different rooms to relax. The biopark is ideal for hiking, bird watching, or taking photos.

Salto del Mico Viewpoint

The viewpoint is a 5-minute drive from the historic center of Barichara. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the whole country. We recommend watching the beautiful sunset from there.

San Gil

San Gil is the mecca for all extreme sports enthusiasts and is only a 30-minute drive from Barichara.

Activities such as canoeing and rafting can be practiced on the Fonce and Suarez Rivers. You can also enjoy paragliding or explore the Cueva de la Vaca and Cueva del Indio caves.

Chicamocha Canyon

The imposing Chicamocha Canyon is about 2 hours drive from Barichara. This gorge is breathtaking in size. With a length of more than 227 kilometers (141 miles) and a depth of 2 kilometers (1.25 miles), it is in no way inferior to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

In its vicinity is the Chicamocha National Park, where activities such as paragliding and canoeing are possible. In addition, you can cross the entire canyon with a cable car.

A visit also gives you the opportunity to try a local specialty and delicacy. The Hormigas culonas are ants with a lush abdomen. These are fried and then eaten like popcorn.

How to get to Barichara

It is best to go to Bucaramanga, from there it is about 121 km (75 miles). Your journey from this city will take approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes (depending on traffic).

Recommended hotels in Barichara

Some excellent options for staying in Barichara are:

El Socorro

El Socorro is considered to be one of the most historically important cities in Colombia. Various heroes of Colombian independence were born here, including Manuela Beltrán, who is considered a national heroine.

The place is also known as the cradle of the citizens’ rebellion, one of the most important uprisings against the then-ruling Spanish empire.

El Socorro belongs to the department of Santander and was founded in 1681. Not only is the city the cradle of several famous people, but it is also known for its historic center, which was declared a national monument in 1963.

Things to do and see in El Socorro

El Socorro is of great historical and cultural importance in Colombia. The following places of interest are worth visiting in our opinion:

Horacio Rodríguez Plata Cultural Center

Cll 14 No. 12-35

This is a colonial-style house museum. In the rooms, with architecture from the time of independence, you will find a large number of historical objects and a library.

The Independence Park

Cra. 14 #13-41

This park is definitely not to be missed when visiting. The park is described by one of the locals as “one of the most traditional parks in Colombia”.

Independence Park is full of history. In the beginning, it was the starting point of the so-called Comuneros (a warlike group that rebelled against the Spanish Empire). This is where the Spaniards shot the then 37-year-old heroine of independence, Antonia Santos. An indispensable point to deal with Colombian heritage.

Basílica Concatedral de Nuestra Señora del Socorro

Cra. 14 #13-41

Located in front of Independence Park, this basilica is one of the main attractions of El Socorro. The basilica was built in 1873 and has become a religious meeting place for locals and foreigners thanks to its beautiful architecture, marble floors, countless relics, and statues.

Parque Convento de los Capuchinos

Cll 14 #9-17

Another historic site is the Capuchin Monastery, which was inaugurated in 1795 and is an integral part of Colombian history. In 1810, it was here that the Socorro Independence Act was signed, which is the first in the country.

Casa de Berbeo

The Berbeo House was inaugurated in the 18th century. At some point, it belonged to the hero of independence and commander-general of the Comuneros, Francisco Berbeo. Paying homage to the Colombian hero, this house museum is a must-see for history lovers.

Other interesting sights include the various colonial-style religious buildings such as the Inmaculada, San Rafael and Santa Barbara chapels.

El Socorro doesn’t just offer activities for history-hungry visitors. You can also do great sports and explore various sights on foot.

Suarez River

The Suarez River is about 30 minutes from the historic center of Socorro and crosses the municipalities of Suaita, Guadalupe, Chima, Guapota, Simacota, El Socorro, Palmar and Galán. Various sports such as rafting and canoeing are possible on the river. The river is also perfect for fishing.

Cueva de la Vaca in Curití

The cave is located about 1 hour from the center of Socorro and is very close to the municipality of Curití. The cave is ideal for speleologists and explorers. A tour through the cave takes about an hour and a half and you will find beautiful rock formations and stalactites. Professional tours with experienced guides are offered for the visit.

How to get to El Socorro

It is around 121 kilometers (75 miles) from Bucaramanga, the capital of Santander. A trip takes about 3.5 hours.

Recommended hotels in El Socorro

Some excellent options for staying in Barichara are:

San Juan de Girón

Known as the White City of Santander, Girón delights visitors with its beautiful cobblestone streets and colonial architecture. This led to this city being declared a National Monument in 1963.

Founded in 1631, today San Juan de Giron is a must-see if you want to go back in time.

Things to do and see in Girón

Giron is particularly known for its religious tourism. Points of interest related to this are described further in the text.

Basílica Menor de San Juan Bautista

Cl. 30 #26-54

With its completely white-painted facades and built in colonial style, the Basilica Menor de San Juan Bautista is a must for tourists. Opened to the public in 1636, its history has made it a magnet for hundreds of local and foreign believers.

Capilla Nuestra Señora de las Nieves

Cl 28 #26-25

Located in front of the Parque de las Nieves, this church, consecrated in 1595, is described by a local as “an absolutely wonderful church”. The people of Girón usually use the chapel for weddings or first communions.

For tourists, this chapel is particularly interesting because of the beautiful colonial architecture and the relics on display. One finds, among other things, a golden relic, which is decorated with emeralds, pearls and rubies. There are also a variety of restaurants around the chapel.

Parish House- Museum of Religious Art

Cl. 28 #26-25

This parish not only serves the church but is also a museum where you can find various religious items. In addition to paintings from the 18th century, a large number of relics and religious objects from the colonial era are on display.

In Girón you can also find various historical and cultural attractions:

Francisco Mantilla de los Ríos Cultural Center

Cl. 30 #26-64

This house museum was created in colonial architecture. Here you can get to know the history of Girón. Various courses such as music, dance, sports, etc. are offered.

La Mansión del Frayle House Museum

Cl. 30 #25-27

This museum is located in front of the main Girón park and is housed in a colonial building. Various objects from the 18th century are on display. In addition, gastronomic experiences are offered, in the existing restaurant also typical dishes from Santander.

Colonial Bridges

Giron was named a cultural heritage site for a reason. There are 6 colonial bridges in the city, which you can not only marvel at, but which also tell the story of the colonial era and its architecture. Built in baroque style, these bridges connect the community with the main park.

For lovers of landscapes and photography, we can recommend the following destinations:

El Humedal del Pantano

The wetland is around an hour’s drive from Giron and also serves as the municipality’s main source of water. You can find a plethora of flora and fauna there.

Las Iguanas Waterfall

The Iguanas waterfall is considered to be one of the most beautiful natural areas in the country and is only 30 minutes away from Girón. In addition to the beautiful waterfall, you will also find rock formations and an incredible variety of flora and fauna. There is also a camping zone and, for fans of extreme sports, various possibilities for abseiling.

As a curiosity, one can find gypsy women in the streets of Girón, reading from the palms of their hands.

We recommend trying the diverse local cuisine of Santander. Typical dishes are, for example, fritanga and mute.

How to get to San Juan de Giron

It takes around 20 minutes to drive from Bucaramanga, the capital of Santander.

Recommended hotels in El Girón

San Miguel de Guaduas

Guaduas is an important reference point in Colombian history. It was the birthplace of Policarpa Salavarrieta, one of the main heroines of the nation’s independence. The woman, born in 1795, is known today as “La Pola” and was deployed as a spy for the revolutionary forces. She was later executed for it by the Spaniards.

Thanks to the beautiful colonial architecture, Guaduas was declared a national monument in 1959.

Things to do and see in Guaduas

As mentioned earlier, Guaduas plays an important role in Colombian history. Accordingly, some of the sights are also very interesting in this context.

La Pola’s House

Calle La Pola

The recently restored house was the birthplace of “La Pola”. Today she is considered one of the greatest heroines in Colombia. You can find a large number of objects from earlier times in the house museum.

Patio del Moro Museum of Arts and Traditions

Cr 4 # 4 – 34

The Patio del Moro Museum is a huge house in colonial architecture. A large number of historical objects can be found in his rooms. Colonial clothing and other items are on display.

One tourist describes it as “an extraordinary place that symbolizes the whole colonial and cultural past in the municipality of Guaduas and possesses objects of great cultural and historical value.” In the museum, there is a restaurant where you can try different typical dishes.

Casa de los Virreyes

Cr 4 # 3-41

The house, built in the colonial style, was built in 1655. Famous people lived here, including viceroys. Manuelita Sáenz, a heroine of independence, also attempted suicide there after learning of the death of the liberator Simón Bolívar, with whom she had a relationship.

San Antonio de Padua Parish

The parish is approximately 40 minutes from Guaduas and can be reached from La Paz de Calamoima road. This chapel was built more than 150 years ago in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua. For those interested in religious tourism, this church is a must.

Santa Fe Royal Road

If you have the time, you can also walk part of the Camino Real de Santa Fe when visiting Guaduas. This comes from colonial times and connected Bogotá with Honda. This road goes through the municipalities of Facatativá, Albán, Villeta, and Guaduas. It is considered to be the best-preserved royal road in Colombia.

For nature and photo lovers, we have the following recommendations:

Piedra Capira Viewpoint

This is one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the country. The Mirador de La Piedra Capira is only 20 minutes away from the Guaduas (easy to get to by taxi) and offers a wonderful view over the Magdalena river.

El Salto de Versalles

Located just 20 minutes from the center of Guaduas, this waterfall is considered one of the most beautiful in Cundinamarca. It is around 40 meters (131 feet) high and the crystal clear water fills the natural pool. The water comes from the San Francisco, El Guadual, and Limonar rivers. This place is great for relaxing and also perfect for photography and nature lovers.

How to get to San Miguel de Guaduas

Guadas is 123 kilometers (76 miles) from Bogota. The historic city can be reached in around 3 hours via mountain roads.

Recommended hotels in Guaduas

Some excellent options to stay in Guaduas include:

Honda

Honda is located on a hill about 36 km (22 miles) from Guaduas. Honda is another historic city that is well worth a visit.

In the past, Honda was considered the main port in all of New Granada (this is what the area that is now Colombia was called earlier). Originally, all goods that were transported to Bogotá went through this place. The Magdalena River connects the place with the Caribbean Sea.

This city in the Tolima department is also known as the “city of bridges”. Honda was founded in 1539 and has been a national monument since 1994.

Things to do and see in Honda

The following sights should not be missed:

Navarro Bridge

Honda is known as “the city of bridges”. The Navarro Bridge, built in 1899, is considered the oldest bridge in South America.

The bridge was also declared a national heritage in 1994. To get there, you only have to walk 200 meters from the colonial center.

Magdalena River Museum

Calle 10 # 9-01

The Magdalena was and is one of the most important rivers in Colombia. The museum is dedicated to this body of water and gives a unique insight into the history and importance of this river.

Nuestra Señora del Rosario Cathedral

Alto del Rosario

With an imposing architectural design and a beautiful bell tower, this church is one of the main tourist attractions in the region. The cathedral is located in José León Armero Square and was built in 1652.

Alfonso Pumarejo House Museum

Calle 13 # 11-75

The house museum is housed in a building with colonial architecture. In the 19th century, it belonged to the Colombian politician Pedro Aquilino López, who was the father of the future President of Colombia, Alfonso López Pumarejo. Historical exhibits and colonial objects as well as items of the late President Pumarejo are on display. It is an ideal place for lovers of Colombian culture.

For nature lovers we can give the following recommendations:

Magdalena River

A visit to Honda is guaranteed to get in touch with the Magdalena River. While we don’t recommend swimming in it here, a short boat ride would certainly be a good option.

How to get to Honda?

Bogota is around 156 kilometers (97 miles) from Honda. A drive to Honda takes an estimated 3.5 hours.

A combined visit with Aguadas should certainly be considered.

Recommended hotels in Honda

Some great options for staying at Honda are:

Salamina

Salamina is part of the coffee culture landscape (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2011) and a city that is well worth a visit for its beauty and unique architecture.

Salamina is located in the department of Caldas and is also known as the “City of Light in Colombia”. This place is characterized by its unique architecture. You can find beautiful narrow streets and iconic balconies adorned with flowers.

Salamina was founded in 1825 and much of the colonial heritage has been preserved since then.

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

Things to do and see in Salamina

Salamina offers various offers for tourists:

Bolívar de Salamina Park

Cl 5 # 6-52

The park is located in front of the small Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and is ideal for relaxing and lingering. The main attraction, La Pila, is a replica of a fountain on Place de la Concorde in Paris, considered one of the most beautiful in America.

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

Basílica Menor de la Inmaculada Concepción

Cl 5 # 6-52

Construction began in 1865. The basilica attracts tourists thanks to its imposing structure and its beautiful white facade. Religious travelers should definitely visit the inside of the church as well.

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

Cemetery

Cr 3 #2-21

One of the biggest attractions of the place is the cemetery. Not only beautiful design awaits us here, but also an interesting story. In the past, a distinction was made between rich and poor people. However, this practice was abolished in 1976. One tourist mentioned that “it is one of the iconic sites of Salamina because of the mountain views and the tranquility”.

For nature lovers, we definitely recommend a visit to the wax palm forest La Samaria. This is around an hour’s drive away. Anyone who previously thought only the wax palms in the Cocora Valley were impressive will experience a big surprise here.

How to get to Salamina

From Manizales, the capital of the department of Caldas, Salamina can be reached in around 2 hours by car. The distance is around 73 kilometers (45 miles). However, the road is extremely curvy and can sometimes put a strain on one or the other stomach.

Recommended hotels in Salamina

Some excellent options for staying in Salamina are:

Aguadas

Aguadas is home to the National Pasillo Festival (a festival related to a traditional dance). The village has become a benchmark in Colombian history and culture.

Together with Salamina, Aguadas is the flagship of the cultural treasures of the department of Caldas. The place is characterized by its landscapes and its cultural importance. The historic center has been a national monument since 1982.

Aguadas was founded in 1808 and is currently also known as the “City of Fog” as it is often surrounded by thick fog. The place is also the cradle of the aguadeño hat (a traditional garment).

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

Things to do and see in Aguadas

There are a variety of attractions and festivals in Aguadas:

Guayacanes

One of the biggest attractions of Aguadas are the beautiful and imposing Guayacanes, beautiful trees with colorful leaves. When visiting, you should definitely take photos of it.

Francisco Giraldo Cultural Center

Cr 3 #7-1

The museum is housed in a colonial building from the 18th century. In this house-museum, you will find exhibitions about indigenous people as well as history and antiques. It is also the headquarters of the National Hat Museum, which is unique in the country.

Museo Nacional del Sombrero

Cr 3 #7-1

This museum is considered unique in the country. It is located in the Casa de la Cultura. A collection of over 300 handcrafted hats is on display in this museum.

Cerro Tutelar del Pipintá Cerro Monserrate

The hill at an altitude of 2,270 meters (7,450 feet) above sea level offers a 360-degree view. From here you can see the Nevado del Ruiz, Pácora, La Vereda el Morro, Castile, Marmato, El Cerro Batero and the whole area.

Calle de los Faroles

Calle Nariño

This brightly painted staircase is certainly one of the most distinctive points in the city. These are also illuminated at night with the corresponding lanterns. The painting of the stairs reflects the abundance of water in the region.

We can recommend the following activities for nature lovers:

La Chorrera Waterfall

Less than 9 kilometers from Aguadas there is a beautiful waterfall with a height difference of 50 meters (164 feet). In the vicinity, there is a beautiful landscape and a variety of wild flora and fauna.

Petroglyphs El Dorado

This place is about 30 minutes drive from Aguadas (you must do a short walk too). You can find traces of past cultures. The cave paintings were made more than 450 years ago by the indigenous tribes of the Armas and Paucuras.

Coffee farm

As in many mountainous regions of Colombia, you can visit one of the countless coffee farms here and learn more about the cultivation of coffee.

How to get to Aguadas

Aguadas is around 147 kilometers (91 miles) from Manizales. A trip takes around 4 hours.

Recommended hotels in Aguadas

Some excellent options for staying in Aguadas are:

Jardín

Jardín is located in the department of Antioquia and was founded in 1863. This city delights its visitors with its beautiful colonial architecture, which is surrounded by overwhelming green landscapes. It is the perfect destination to see and photograph the “Cock-of-the-Rock”.

Because of its culture, architecture, and the preservation of its culture, Jardín was declared as a National Monument in 1985.

Things to do and see in Jardín

Basílica Menor La Inmaculada Concepción

Cl 11 #2-43

With its Gothic style and beautiful interior where the design and beautiful figures stand out, this church is ideal for lovers of religious tourism. Construction of the basilica began in 1918 and was named a small basilica by Pope John Paul II.

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

The Herrera Path

Cl 13 #6-1

The Camino de la Herrera is the ideal plan if you want to spend a contemplative day in the middle of peace and nature. This cobblestone path is approximately 350 meters long. It was built in 1858 and declared a national cultural heritage in 1990 thanks to its beautiful construction and preservation.

Clara Rojas Peláez Cultural Center

Cl 11 #2-43

The house museum is housed in a building of colonial origin. There are various exhibitions of colonial and historical objects, as well as beautiful murals depicting the founders and historical sites of Jardín. The Gabriel Peláez Montoya City Library is also located there.

El Libertador Park

Cl 11 #2-43

This park was declared a national heritage in 1985 and is one of the most famous places in Jardín. Here you will find the Minor Basilica La Inmaculada Concepción and the Monument Los Fundadores, a tribute to the first inhabitants of Jardín.

The central square is beautiful and furnished with beautiful colored chairs painted by local artists. The stones of the square were extracted from the Tapartó river. The central square is ideal for enjoying a coffee and observing local life.

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

Jardin also offers an incredible range of activities outside of the city:

La Cueva del Esplendor

This is considered to be the biggest tourist attraction in the municipality of Jardín. In the cave, there is a large opening in the ceiling from which a waterfall falls. To get to the cave, a walk of around 90 minutes is necessary.

El Salto del Ángel

This beautiful waterfall can be reached within an hour on foot.

Cueva de los Guácharos

The Cueva de los Guácharos is only 20 minutes away from the El Salto del Angel waterfall. This cave is home to the nocturnal birds known as guácharos (oil birds).

How to get to Jardín

The distance from Medellin is around 131 kilometers (81 miles). It takes about 3 hours to get there.

Recommended hotels in Jardín

Some excellent places to stay in Jardin are:

Jericó

Jerico is one of the most popular religious destinations in Colombia. The variety of churches is incredible, over 20 in number. Jerico was also the birthplace of the holy mother, Laura Montoya Upegui.

Arriving in Jerico means being surrounded by color and joy, the streets are full of restaurants and places to relax. Thanks to the beautiful cobblestone streets, the colorful streets and the colonial style, this place is also ideal for taking pictures.

Founded in 1850, Jerico was originally called Aldea de Piedras. The community has grown in importance since 2013, when the holy mother Laura, considered the first Colombian Beatus, was canonized.

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

Things to do and see in Jericó

As a religious destination, Jerico has more than 27 churches. Some of the monasteries and iconic sites that stand out are:

Nuestra Señora de Las Mercedes Cathedral

Cr. 4 #6-1

The imposing brown church is considered the most important in Jerico. Religious visitors should definitely visit them. A special feature is that inside there are the relics of the holy mother Laura.

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

Saint Laura Birth House

Cr 3 #7-5

In Jericó we find rooms dedicated to Colombian saints, such as the birthplace of Santa Laura. The baptismal font in which she was baptized is also located here.

Monseñor Pompilio Gallego Arboleda House of Culture Museum

Cr 5 con calle 9

This is the old house where several religious communities lived. It currently functions as a museum where various historical and cultural exhibitions are held. The city library is also located here.

MAJA Museum

Cl 7 #6-2

The entire culture and history of the heritage town are concentrated in the Museum of Anthropology and Art of Jerico. Here you can find paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other elements that tell of the importance of Jerico. Various exhibitions are also held here throughout the year.

José Tomas Uribe House Museum

Cl 4 # 4-06

This museum is part of the MAJA. Various objects from Europe are exhibited in the beautiful colonial-style house. Among other things, you can find Italian and Spanish porcelain. This entire collection was created by José Tomás Uribe Abad, a resident of Jericó who passed away in 2014. He managed to collect these objects while living in Europe.

Ateneo Álvaro Arango Gaviria

Cl. 7 #2-85

More than 130 instruments from around the world are exhibited in this small museum. It is considered the house of Jericó’s music. The exhibition is also part of the MAJA Museum.

Los Balsos Botanical Garden

Cra. 3 #2-1

If you are looking for peace and quiet, I recommend a visit to the Los Balsos Botanical Garden. The entrance to the garden is already promising. It has a small pond and you can find all kinds of local plants.

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

Cristo Redentor Viewpoint

Cr 5 #11

You can either reach the Cristo statue via a street or find your way through the botanical garden. I was unsuccessful in my visit at the time and ended up having to climb the hill through the wet meadow. Above you will find a gondola lift and the statue, from where you can enjoy a wonderful view over the whole of Jerico and the region.

Las Nubes

About 10 minutes from Jericó there is another beautiful viewpoint. However, sometimes you are there in fog or in a cloud, hence the name.

How to get to Jericó

The distance from Medellin is around 112 km (70 miles) and it takes around 3 hours to get there. The roads are currently under construction and in the future, the journey should only be 90 minutes.

Recommended hotels in Jericó

Some excellent options for staying in Jericó are:

Santa Fe de Antioquia

Santa Fe de Antioquia is rightly considered one of the most beautiful places in the department of Antioquia. There is enough history and culture there to fill a few days’ stay.

The cultural destination is also one of the most visited in the country. The municipality was founded in 1541 by the conqueror Jorge Robledo and was the first capital of Antioquia. Thanks to the pleasant climate, its beautiful streets, and its colonial architecture, I can highly recommend a visit.

Things to do and see in Santa Fe de Antioquia

In addition to the colonial architecture, Santa Fe de Antioquia offers a lot more:

La Casa de las dos palmas

This building is approximately 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Santa Fe. It was once the home of Juan del Corral, who declared Antioquia’s independence. Inside you can find various historical objects.

La Casa Negra Cultural Center

Cl 9 #7-70

The house museum is housed in a building of colonial architecture. Inside you can find various historical objects. I also recommend a visit to the site’s own garden and library.

Juan del Corral Museum

Calle 11 #9-77

I can especially recommend this museum to visitors interested in history and culture. Inside the Juan del Corral Museum you can find various colonial objects, pre-Columbian ceramics, religious art and other typical elements of Santa Fe de Antioquia.

Francisco Cristóbal Toro Museum of Religious Art

Cl 11 #8-12

The museum opened in 1969. Paintings, religious art sculptures and various goldsmith objects from the Spanish colony as well as typical objects from the 18th century are on display.

Puente Colgante de Occidente

About an hour from Santa Fe is the Puente de Occidente. The bridge was built in 1887 and for a long time, it was considered the longest bridge in South America. It was declared a national monument in 1978.

Heritage Towns Colombia Guide

How to get to Santa Fe de Antioquia

From Medellin, Santa Fe de Antioquia can be reached in around 90 minutes by car. The distance is around 56 kilometers (35 miles).

Recommended hotels in Santa Fe de Antioquia

Some excellent options for staying in Santa Fe are:

Ciénaga

Cienaga is considered the capital of magical realism. The Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, Gabriel García Marquez, used his stay in this place to create Macondo. It is the location of the book “100 Years of Solitude”.

Ciénaga is located in the Magdalena department. The place is characterized by its culture and beautiful colonial architecture. Founded in 1751, Cienaga was declared as a nation’s heritage in 1994.

Things to do and see in Ciénaga

Cienaga is known for various festivals. If you visit the city on January 20th, you can immediately take part in the Cienaguero Cayman Festival. Caribbean culture is celebrated at this festival.

The National Music Festival takes place in July. This festival pays homage to Guillermo Buitrago, one of the pioneers of the Colombian musical style Vallenato.

San Juan Bautista Church

Cl. 18 #24-51

This church is located in the historic center of Ciénaga and is the oldest structure in the municipality. It was inaugurated in 1612. It is a beautiful and gigantic structure that is painted completely white and immediately attracts the attention of visitors.

For the brave, there is the house of the devil. It’s a ruined mansion that supposedly belonged to a man who made a pact with Satan.

We have compiled the following excursion destinations in the region:

Beaches

Cienaga is located on the Caribbean Sea, so there are various beaches not far from the town. By far the best beaches can be found around an hour away in Tayrona Park.

Toribio river

About 35 minutes away is one of the municipality’s main rivers. It is ideal for bathing and swimming. In the hot climate, refreshment is always welcome.

El Volcán hot springs

About 15 minutes by car from Ciénega are the only hot springs on the Caribbean coast and reach a temperature of 43° Celsius (109° Fahrenheit). This place is considered sacred to the local indigenous tribes.

How to get to Cienaga

Cienaga can be easily reached from Santa Marta or Barranquilla. The journey times are between one hour and 90 minutes.

Recommended hotels in Ciénaga

Some excellent options for staying in Ciénaga are:

Guadalajara de Buga

Buga is considered one of the most important religious places in the country. Hundreds of parishioners gather there every year for a spiritual retreat.

Buga was founded in 1570. The city is not only a religious pilgrimage site, but also one of the oldest cities in Colombia.

Things to do and see in Buga

Buga is not known to foreigners, but history buffs and religious travelers should put this city on the map:

San Pedro Apóstol Cathedral

Cr. 15 #6- 47

The cathedral was built between 1573 and 1616 and has been rebuilt several times throughout its history. It is one of the most famous sights in Buga since it has a white facade and a spectacular interior. The beautiful main altar is an absolute showpiece.

La Basílica del Señor de los Milagros

Cr 14 #3-62

This basilica is considered to be the most iconic building in Buga. People of all nationalities come to this basilica to ask for heavenly help or simply to thank them for a favor they have received.

The basilica was built in 1898 and is now considered a place of pilgrimage for believers. In 1981 Pope John Paul II gave it the name of a small basilica.

Señor de Los Milagros Museum

Cr 14 #3-37

About 5 minutes from the Basilica del Señor de los Milagros we find this museum, which exhibits a large number of objects. You can find religious clothing, jewelry, and historical photographs of the basilica. Entry is free.

Other interesting sights in Buga are:

Simón Bolívar House

Cr 13 con Cl 2

This museum is suitable for history lovers. It is documented that the liberator Simón Bolívar visited this house twice. Since that time it has become one of the most valuable assets of the place.

Municipal Theater

Founded in 1922 and still in operation, the theater has probably the most impressive architecture in the entire city. With a circular design inside, visitors can enjoy plays or a variety of shows here.

We also recommend nature lovers to visit the Yotoco nature reserve. You can find many animals and a large amount of fauna there. It is also an ideal place for photographers.

How to get to Buga?

The distance from Cali is around 68 kilometers (42 miles). The journey takes around 1 hour.

Recommended hotels in Buga

Some excellent options for staying in Buga are:

La Playa de Belén

Belen is considered the most beautiful city in the Norte de Santander department. Surrounded by beautiful white painted houses and architecture with a unique uniformity, this place is undoubtedly a great destination.

Belén was founded in 1862 and declared a national monument in 2005.

Things to do and see in Playa de Belen

Some of the most famous attractions in Playa de Belen:

Los Pinos

The viewpoint is only 20 minutes from the city center. The site is surrounded by pine trees (hence the name) and offers a magnificent view from which to see the entire parish and even the wonder of the famous Estoraques (eroded rock pillars).

Los Estoraques

Just 5 minutes from the city, it is possible to reach one of the most incredible natural wonders of Norte de Santander, Los Estoraques. You can find gigantic rock structures there (they reach 25 to 30 meters).

Varagúa Natural Park

Carrera 3 # 3-58

The park has a variety of ecological trails.

Temple and Cloister of San Francisco

Another place worth mentioning is the San Francisco Cloister. This is where the Constituent Convention of 1828 met with the aim of changing the 1821 Constitution of Cúcuta.

How to get to Belén?

From Cucuta, the capital of the department of Norte de Santander, the distance is 194 kilometers (121 miles). The journey time is around 4.5 hours.

Santa Cruz de Lorica

Lorica is known as “the capital of Bocachico”, a local fish. Due to its historical importance, the city is also known as the “ancient and stately city”.

Lorica is located in the department of Cordoba and was founded in 1740. The city offers a unique style in which one can find Arabic elements.

Things to do and see in Lorica

Lorica impresses above all with its unique architecture. Here are some sights that we recommend:

Historical center

Cl 1 # 17 – 54

Unlike other historical centers where we can find colonial buildings, Lorica has a Republican and Arabic architectural style. The center is located on the Sinú River.

Afife Matuk

Cl 1 # 17 – 54

This house is located in the historic center of the city and is characterized by its architecture with clear Syrian-Lebanese influences. Inside you can experience the clash of cultures. The columns, the facade, and the design seem to come straight from the Arab world.

Iglesia de Lorica

Cra 16 # 38

This church with its imposing Arabic design and white facades is located 5 minutes from the historic center and delights all visitors.

Market

The market hall in Lorica impresses with its impressive size and is located directly on the river. Not only is there a great gastronomic variety on offer here. Due to its beautiful design, it has also been declared a national cultural heritage.

How to get to Santa Cruz de Lorica

Lorica can be reached in around an hour’s drive from the capital of the department, Monteria. The distance is 61 kilometers (38 miles).

Recommended hotels in Lorica

Some excellent options for staying in Lorica are:

Santa Cruz de Mompox

Mompox was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. The city is of great historical importance as it has long been considered one of the most important trading points in the whole country.

The city in Bolívar department, founded in 1540 and surrounded by the Magdalena River, was once the settlement of the Malibu Indians. Currently, this place fascinates with its incredible and well-preserved colonial architecture.

The climate in Mompox is hot and humid. Since I am personally sensitive to such climatic conditions, my stay was short-lived.

Things to do and see in Mompox

Mompox is a well-known place of pilgrimage at home and abroad. Some of the main attractions are:

San Francisco Church

Cra. 1

With its beautiful red facade and incredible colonial architecture, this church is an absolute tourist magnet. The church is in front of the Brazo de Mompox (the section of the Magdalena River that surrounds the place). It was founded in 1580 and currently, the Colegio Sagrado Corazón de Jesús works next to the church.

San Juan de Dios Church

Cr. 2 #19

This church has huge doors and a beautiful bell tower. Inaugurated in 1550, it is located next to the hospital of the same name, considered by some to be the oldest hospital in America.

Santa Bárbara Church

Carrera 1 # 14 – 57

It is another of the traditional Mompox churches that are painted a beautiful yellow color and feature their large bell tower. It was built in 1613 and inside there are beautiful religious figures. Due to its location right in front of the Brazo de Mompox, you can combine a visit with a break by the river.

Santo Domingo Church

Calle real del medio

This church was founded by the Dominican Order in 1544 and rebuilt after the collapse in 1856. Currently, tourists can visit this reconstruction and marvel at the beautiful white facade and beautiful religious figures, of which the altar of the Virgen del Rosario stands out.

Other places or attractions in Mompox are:

The House of the Apostles

Cr. 2

Just 5 minutes from the San Juan de Dios Church, this house is another must-see for lovers of religious tourism. In this house, which functions as a museum, we can find the figures of the 12 apostles as well as the image of Jesus and other sacred objects.

The Museum of Religious Art

Calle real del medio

This museum was once the home of the hero of Colombian independence, Vicente Celedonio Gutiérrez de Piñerez. Various religious relics made of silver and gold are exhibited in the museum. There are currently a total of 160 exhibits.

House of Culture

Calle real del medio

The house of colonial origin delights visitors with its exhibited objects. During the 18th century, it was a private palace for wealthy residents. The building is characterized by its beautiful architecture and its beautiful colonial terrace.

Inside, exhibitions of archeology, history, etc. are shown. In addition, the Horacio Tarcisio Rojas music school and the mixed fund for the promotion of art and culture in Bolívar are located in the building.

Ciénaga de Pijiño

We also recommend nature lovers to visit Ciénaga de Pijiño. The place can be reached within an hour by boat. You will be rewarded with unique nature and with a little luck, with the local fauna.

How to get to Mompox?

A journey from Cartagena takes around 5 hours. There is also the option of arriving via the Magdalena River.

Recommended hotels in Mompox

Some excellent ways to stay in Mompox are:

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