Villa de Leyva

Villa de Leyva is a charming old colonial city in Boyacá in Colombia. Calm and tranquil on weekdays, it gets flooded by tourists from Bogotá on the weekends. Villa de Leyva is one of the few towns in Colombia that conserved all its colonial architecture. It is located 150 km north from Bogotá and has a nice dry and warm weather, although it gets windy and cold in the evening.

Get in

To reach the main plaza, take a right when you exit the terminal and head on that street (Cra.9) for a couple blocks.

Understand

History

Villa de Leyva was founded on June 12th 1572, by Captain Hernan Suárez de Villalobos, as instructed by the first president of the New Kingdom of Granada Sr. Andres Díaz Venero de Leyva. Initially Villa de Leyva was established close to the Indian Astronomic Observatory in a place called Zaquencipá Valley, and then twelve years later was moved to its actual location. During the colonisation, Villa de Leyva was a principal producer of oil olive and some cereals, especially wheat and barley. It was chosen as a favorite place for Spanish families and especially as place to rest for viceroys.

Villa de Leyva was home of the Captain Antonio Ricaurte, a hero in the San Mateo battle during the war of independence. The General and President of the New Republic Antonio Nariño spent his last days in this town. In 1812 there was the meeting of the first congress of the United Provinces. In 1830 the construction of the road to connect Villa de Leyva with Tunja which passed by Arcabuco began. The construction of this road started the development of this beautiful village. In 1954 Villa de Leyva was declared a National Monument.

The architecture of Villa de Leyva has a Spanish style. You can see in the construction of most of the houses in the village, their wonderful balconies, arcs and main doors (it is possible to appreciate this in the old buildings such as Casa del Primer Congreso, Casa de Don Antonio Narioño, Casa de La Real Fabrica de Licores, Claustro de San Agustín). Villa de Leyva is a place of inspiration to poets and writers. They can find peace in its stone paved streets or just contemplating the majestic main square, unique in Latin-America.

Villa de Leyva is located at 2.143 meters above sea level, with a lovely temperature of 18oC and a population of 12.000 inhabitants. Its size is 128 km2. Villa de Leyva’s borders are: Arcabuco and Gachantiva in the north, Sachica and Chíquiza to the south, Chíquiza and San Pedro de Iguaque to the east and Santa Sofia, Sutamarchan and Gachantiva to the west.

The Iguaque’s Sanctuary of Flora and Fauna is an ecological reserve (6.700 hectares). It is home to a great variety of native species and is a part of the National Parks Unit. The reserve goes from 2.800 to 3.800 meters above sea level, and it is possible to see different kinds of ecosystems like the Andean high jungle, and the Stunted Jungle which reaches the majestic Moor called Paramo. Apart from these reasons, The Iguaque Sanctuary is also a very important reserve of water for the entire region. Also, it has eight glacier lakes, one of which contains the origins of the Bachue legend.

A variety of fossils have been found around Villa de Leyva. These have been deemed important because of their sizes and their very relevant contributions made to paleontological investigations. Found in 1945, The Plesiosaurus is more than 115 million years old, and is part of the National Geological Museum’s collection. It is also the finding place of The Ichtyosaurus, a marine reptile that lived between 110 and 115 million years ago, which is 8 meters long and without a tail, and is very similar to another similar specimen found in Australia. These discoveries show that Villa de Leyva was immersed by the sea before the Andes Mountains were formed.

In agreement with the Muisca’s mythology, the Iguaque lake legend says that a beautiful woman called Bachue, walked out from the lake with a boy of three years of age (Iguaque). They were the origin of the most important Indian tribe in Colombia called the Muisca. Anthropologic research says that the Muisca civilization was a very clever tribe, especially for their knowledge of agriculture, pottery and astronomy. The evidence of this is possible to see in the ‘Infiernito’ (the little hell) well known as the Muisca Astronomic Observatory.

Get around

Villa de Leyva is small enough to be covered on foot.

See

There are a handful of museums in town. Not all of them are impressive.

Do

Understand

Villa de Leyva was founded on June 12th 1572, by Captain Hernan Suárez de Villalobos, as instructed by the first president of the New Kingdom of Granada Sr. Andres Díaz Venero de Leyva. Initially Villa de Leyva was established close to the Indian Astronomic Observatory in a place called Zaquencipá Valley, and then twelve years later was moved to its actual location. During the colonisation, Villa de Leyva was a principal producer of oil olive and some cereals, especially wheat and barley. It was chosen as a favorite place for Spanish families and especially as place to rest for viceroys.

Villa de Leyva was home of the Captain Antonio Ricaurte, a hero in the San Mateo battle during the war of independence. The General and President of the New Republic Antonio Nariño spent his last days in this town. In 1812 there was the meeting of the first congress of the United Provinces. In 1830 the construction of the road to connect Villa de Leyva with Tunja which passed by Arcabuco began. The construction of this road started the development of this beautiful village. In 1954 Villa de Leyva was declared a National Monument.

The architecture of Villa de Leyva has a Spanish style. You can see in the construction of most of the houses in the village, their wonderful balconies, arcs and main doors (it is possible to appreciate this in the old buildings such as Casa del Primer Congreso, Casa de Don Antonio Narioño, Casa de La Real Fabrica de Licores, Claustro de San Agustín). Villa de Leyva is a place of inspiration to poets and writers. They can find peace in its stone paved streets or just contemplating the majestic main square, unique in Latin-America.

Villa de Leyva is located at 2.143 meters above sea level, with a lovely temperature of 18oC and a population of 12.000 inhabitants.

Buy

Eat

Drink

Villa de Leyva has potable tap water, feel free to drink it!

Sleep

Prices rise on weekends and holidays.

Go next

Around Villa de Leyva are several attraction which can be visited as a day trip :

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, January 04, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.