When you visit Colombia, certain cities can be like travelling back in time. Often set in a beautiful backdrop of mountains and lush jungle, Colombia still retains traces of its colonial past. Here we take a look at some of the most beautiful colonial cities in Colombia.
Villa de Leyva
This is one of the most famous colonial cities in Colombia. However, due to its small size and tiny population, it is really considered to be a town rather than a city. It looks like it has been transported directly out of a postcard. The streets are cobbled and lead to the main square that has barely changed over the years. You can certainly imagine the history encompassed in this one town. The town itself is geared towards tourists, who often flock from Bogotá to see it’s beauty. There are plenty of hotels and hostels, which range from budget chic to luxury. Reflecting the influx of tourists, there are also plenty of restaurants serving traditional Colombian food. A must see in any of the major cities in Colombia is the plaza mayor of Villa de Leyva. It is said to be the largest in South America and has been exceptionally well preserved. Around the area, you can head out of the town hike or cycle through the forests of Iguaque National Park. There is also a desert close by, which you can travel to on horseback. If you decide to stay in the town, the El Fosil museum houses some wonderful artefacts. These include several fossils found in the area, including a 120 million year old skeleton of a dinosaur.
Mompox is located on the Rio Magdalena and is a wonderful study in colonial history. In the past, it actually rivalled Cartagena in terms of its significance. This importance has ensured that this is one of the best cities in Colombia to visit. Despite its fame, it is a little difficult to access Mompox. Links with major cities are tenuous and the area does not have its own airport. Therefore, tourists are restricted to travelling by land. However, if you do decide to visit, Exoticca can facilitate your trip and make it worthwhile! Once there, the town is not particularly well prepared to welcome tourists. There are few hotel options and restaurants are also few and far between. However, this means that this is one of the most well preserved cities in Colombia. The town does not have any real attractions like Villa Leyva but what it lacks in activities, it makes up for in charm. Many visitors simply while away the hours meandering the streets. The buildings retain much of their past and can easily transport you back in time.
Guatapé has much of the architecture that you would expect from traditional cities in Colombia. The buildings are bright and colourful, and often have very intricate designs on their façades. These are known as bas-reliefs, and often display important information about the inhabitants of the house. This could be their religious or political beliefs, but can also tell the history of a family. Many tourists pass the hours in Guatapé hunting down the most interesting bas-reliefs. There is also plenty to do here in terms of leisure activities. The restaurants are excellent and there is plenty of choices. Due to it¡s proximity to the water, you can also participate in watersports. However, if this does not tickle your fancy, it is well worth visiting El Peñol. This is a large rock, which offers views over several islands surrounded by tropical waters. The rock is extremely important to indigenous tribes and is often the site of worship. However, for tourists, the climb to the top is an experience not to be missed, in all the cities in Colombia.
Last but not least, Cartagena retains its importance as one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Colombia. The port of Cartagena dates from the 16th century and due to its significance during colonial times, the architecture is extremely well preserved. In fact, it is one of the most striking examples of colonial building throughout the cities in Colombia. The old town is the perfect place to start. There is an impressive fortress, clock tower and cathedral. Dotted around the city are monuments dedicated to Simón Bolívar, as well as more gruesome sights, such as the Palacio de la Inquisición. You can also visit the home of Gabriel García Márquez on Del Curato street. The city centre also houses the Plaza of San Pedro Claver, which was of great significance during colonial rule. Trade and slaves were openly negotiated here and seeing the square is like travelling back in time. Cartagena also has plenty of shops which sell local handicrafts, the perfect souvenir to take home to commemorate your trip.