A Colonial Gem in Boyacá
08.02.2015 - 11.02.2015 70 °F
Located in the Valle de Saquenzipa in Boyacá, Villa de Leyva is a historic colonial town that in 1954 was declared a National Monument of Colombia. Located about three and half hours north-east of Bogotá, the town preserves its timeless beauty. At the weekend, the town bustles with weekenders from around Colombia and around the world but weekdays Villa de Leyva remains a quiet placid place.
The Valle de Saquenzipa has elevation of 2,140 meters or just over 7,000 feet enjoying a warm dry climate with sunny days and cool nights. The town was founded in 1572 by Hernán Suarez de Villalobos and named for Andrés Díaz Venero de Leiva, the first governor of the Province de la Nueva Granada. The town originally served as a retreat for Spanish officials and clergymen. It is an architectural gem boasting whitewashed buildings, cobblestone streets and one of the largest plazas in the Americas. The town also has several churches, a monastery and a covent of cloistered Carmelites.
Antonio Nariño, one of the leaders of the Colombian independence movement, lived and died here in 1823. His home has been beautifully restored and is now a museum dedicated to his memory. A number of other museums exist in this small Andean town of 15,000 inhabitants including a Museum of Religious Art and just outside of town a remarkable collection of fossils from the Cenozoic and Paleozoic eras can be seen at El Fósil.
The area is also home to Colombia's small wine country and visits to some of the wineries in the area are possible. Gastronomically, Villa de Leyva offers a varied and diverse offering of cuisines from Boyancense (typical of the area, Colombian and international with Spanish, Italian and Mexican eateries and a menu for every budget. A visit to Villa de Leyva is a must when visiting Colombia.