Villa de Leyva

Welcome to a world of white-washed walls, red terracotta roofs, forest green trim, and cobblestoned streets. Boyaca‘s tiny, picturesque Villa de Leyva is quite possibly the biggest tourist attraction around Bogota, and with good reason. It’s a superb historically preserved city with a wealth of activities both in and outside of town. This is certainly one of the safest and most tranquil spots in the whole country. On weekends and holidays it’s flooded with rolos (people from Bogota) and tourists from around Colombia and the world.

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It’s just four hours from Bogota, and forty-five minutes from Tunja. Although there are a few daily direct buses between Bogota and Villa de Leyva, your best bet is most likely heading to Tunja, the capital of Boyaca, and then transferring there. Villa de Leyva is small, and a taxi to most anywhere in the village will cost $5.000.

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Villa de Leyva is capable of accommodating both low and high budget tastes. It is crammed with hostels and hotels, restaurants, and bars and nightlife catering to a wide range of tastes.

You should definitely plan on spending at least one full day exploring the city itself, while the possibilities for exploring the surrounding areas are endless.

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Around Villa de Leyva some of the most popular attractions include the Pozos Azules, numerous wineries, the Museo Fosil, the Granja de Avestruces (Ostrich Farm), and the Periquera waterfall. Towering over the city to the east is a mountain range which forms part of the Iguaque National Park.

The climate is mild and the topography is best described as semi-desert.

Of particular interest is the Casa Museo de Narino, one of the founders of Colombia and the struggle for independence.

Here is a translation of a plaque from this museum that descibes Narino’s important life and legacy:

“Antonio Amador Jose Narino Bernardo Alvarez del Casal was born on April 9, 1765 in Santafe de Bogota. He was elected mayor of the city, he started large and prosperous businesses, he was in charge of charity works, and he headed a renowned literary center in Virreinato.

He was recognized for having been one of the criollos that started the revolutionary intellectual movement against the Spanish Crown, thanks to the innovative ideas of the illustration. These ideas of justice and social reform came about through his friendships with Luis de Rieux and Sabaires, members of the French intellectual elite, who also initiated him into Freemasonry.

After translating and publishing “The Rights of Man and the Citizen” en 1794, his life changed radically and he was treated as a conspirator and a traitor; all of his possessions were confiscated and he was sentenced to ten years of exile in Africa. However, he escaped and was able to travel to England and France.

Upon returning to Bogota he was again imprisoned and only regained his freedom after the events of July 20th, 1810, when he served the Republic in its first years as secretary of the Congress, and then as the President of Cundinamarca.

He led the Southern Campaign of 1813, where he was captured for the third time in Pasto. He died on December 13, 1823 in Villa de Leyva at the age of 58.”

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