Things to do in Villa de Leyva
Villa de Leyva is a Pueblo Patrimonio in Boyacá Department, 165 km/102 miles northeast of Bogotá, or 3 hours driving. At a high altitude of 2,150 metres/7,050 feet, it has a semi-desert climate, with a population of about 20.000.
If you are visiting Bogotá then surely a night in Villa de Leyva is imperative. The road from Bogotá is in itself interesting with a steep climb up the Andes before levelling off and a total change in topography and climate.
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Founded in 1572 Villa de Leyva has the largest Plaza in Colombia and the greatest cobbled square in all of South America. Steeped in history there has been very little development since, with new builds having to comply with a strict code. As a consequence, Villa de Leyva is a major tourist attraction for its authentic colonial architecture, cobbled stones, terracotta roofs and whitewashed buildings. Villa de Leyva is surrounded by some of Colombia´s most interesting desert landscapes.
Places to visit in Villa de Leyva
1. The plaza mejor: is of course the focus of the town, not only for its sheer size, but because of the outstanding original buildings on all four sides, with a simple church, Iglesia Parroquial, as the focal point.
2. Casa Museo de Luis Alberto Acuña: hosts paintings and sculptures by one of Colombia´s most reputable artists.
3. Mirador el Santo: has spectacular views and a stunning location for sunrise and sunset. There is a small statue of Jesus at the centre.
4. Pozos Azules: are a series of small artificial lakes west of town, with the most fabulous blue-green colours – hence the name. There are six in total and receive their colour from high concentrations of sulfur, selenium and copper sulphate. You can walk around, picnic or even go by horseback. Makes for a delightful afternoon.
Entry is 12,000 COP/US$3.
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5. La Casa Terracota/Terracotta House: is a liveable structure made entirely from kiln fired earth inside and out. The entire structure is made from pottery. Time, water or climate change can destroy it. This is a remarkable place and worth a visit. Entry is 45,000 COP/US$5.50, with discounts available for seniors and juniors.
6. La Laguna de Iguaque: to the north-east of Villa de Leyva, the land rises to cloud-forest and includes the national park and a group of seven waterfalls collectively name La Periquera. This is home to many different plants, flowers and wildlife. It is possible to hike and experience the myth of La Laguna. Very peaceful and beautiful.
Entry for foreigners is 37,000 COP/US$9 and 14,000 COP/US$3.50 for residents.
7. Villa de Leyva Archaeological Park: is a spiritual Muisca site, with burial mounds and a solar observatory Excavations continue and thus far 54 are in a north row and 55 in a south row. Aligned east- west, this is indicative of the Muisca calendar. Entry is 18,000 COP/US$4.50.
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8. The wines of Villa de Leyva: would not immediately come to mind. However, in 1994 Viñedo Ain Karim started selling their production from vines imported from France and California. They have since won awards worldwide. Also too there is Viñedo Umaña Dajud.
Some recommendations for stays!
There are numerous quality lodgings available in Villa de Leyva.If you have transport being outside the town has some advantages, however taxis are easily accessed.
1. Giro Villa: is 900 metres from the Plaza Mejor and has a covered heated pool. Very comfortable.
2.Posada de San Antonio: La Posada de San Antonio is central with a pool and has its own restaurant.
Villa de Leyva is a wonderful small Colombian Pueblo and has so much to offer – more than the eye would expect. Hiking to quiet walks, to exciting adventures, Villa de Leyva will not disappoint.
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