While driving around the Caribbean coast of Colombia many proud Colombians mentioned that the towns within the department of Boyaca are beautiful and very inviting. We have since discovered that they were not lying, there are many truly beautiful towns peppered around the countryside. We believe that in Boyaca the king of these towns is Villa de Leyva. Founded in 1572, and declared a Colombian national monument in 1954 this town is truly beautifully preserved and though it is a tourist mecca for Colombians and an increasing number of foreign tourists, it is well worth a visit.
We camped in Villa de Leyva for several days. “Several days!?” some have said, “in a year and half driving through Latin America haven’t you tired of Spanish colonial towns?” Well, no. At least not yet. Villa de Leyva is welcoming and beautiful and so far we cannot get enough of Spanish colonial architecture and its signature 3 foot thick walls and inner courtyards. During the work week there are very few visitors from Bogota and the town has a very relaxed, almost lazy feel to it that we can totally relate to 🙂
Other reasons to visit Villa de Leyva? Wonderful weather, great hiking, beautiful scenery, waterfalls, weird mud house, a very beautiful monastery, wine tasting at a vineyard (albeit not that great), great farmers market (only Saturdays), great camping spot, an almost complete fossil of a Kronosaurus on display, an ostrich farm (if you are into that), Werner Herzog filmed here and last but not least there is El Infiernito (The Little Hell) a pre-columbian site full of phallic menhirs purportedly used as a rudimentary astronomical observatory of sorts. Need I say more?
How about some photos…
Villa de Leyva, a pictorial
The monastery of Ecce Homo. I won’t go all professor Lost World on ya, but “Ecce homo” or “Behold the man” was how Pontius Pilate presented Jesus Christ shortly before his crucifixion. Trivia for some essential for others. About the monastery: they claim four Dominican monks built this monastery in the 1600’s, the place is absolutely beautiful and many of the rocks used for the construction have amazing fossils of trilobites and other cool critters and plants. The cloister patio has 33 columns, which somehow represent the years Jesus lived and a Passage of the Dead, under whose bricks abbots are buried. On that note…
La Periquera, a great hike through some private property that houses a wonderful series of waterfalls
The Mud House. A homeowner decided to get creative with his house and it has become a bit of an attraction due to its unusual design. We really liked some aspects of the design and if there were no houses around it the house could blend quite well with the landscape.
There is much more, but we are selfish… we keep some for ourselves 🙂 Thanks.