Of all the beautiful heritage towns in Colombia, Villa de Leyva is perhaps the very best. It is a shining of example of what can be achieved with only a few simple elements.
Of all the beautiful heritage towns in Colombia, Villa de Leyva is perhaps the very best. It is a shining of example of what can be achieved with only a few simple elements; uneven cobbled streets, well preserved colonial era architecture and pristine whitewashed façades . The spacious main square is the heart of the town, from which narrow alleyways branch of in all directions, hiding churches, monasteries and traditional handicraft shops. Villa de Leyva retains a relaxed and old time feel, especially during the week when less tourists descend upon it, and at 3 hours north of Bogotá is the perfect day trip or overnight stop to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city.
This visit starts with an early morning overland departure from Bogotá to the beautiful town of Villa de Leyva. This town has several rural landscapes from a wilderness area region with its unique lakes and water reservoirs to the semi-arid deserts. Villa de Leyva is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Colombia. The first stop is at the colonial town of Ráquira, probably the most colorful town in Colombia with vivid colored facades and attractive buildings. _x000D_ _x000D_ This hidden gem, Ráquira, only 15 miles away from Villa de Leyva, is a brightly colonial town which name literally means “City of Pots” in the native Chibcha language spoken by the ancient Muisca tribe. The town specializes in fine hand-made ceramics and throughout the streets you will find different craft shops and artisans selling their artwork and pottery. In the colorful shops, usually located at the main square, you will find everything from ceramic bowls, vases, pitchers, children’s toys, piggy banks, dwarfs and even Christmas decorations hanging in the storefronts. During this visit, you will have the opportunity to pass by a workshop and observe the process of how traditional pottery is made. Close to Ráquira you will find the “Monasterio del Desierto de la Candelaria”, the first Augustine monastery founded in Latin America in the year 1604. You will visit the chapel, a small museum and the cloisters in the courtyard. Finally you will arrive to Villa de Leyva. Founded in 1572, this lovely colonial town was declared a national monument in 1954. It has been preserved entirety including its stone-paved streets embedded with fossils from the surrounding area. All the buildings are whitewashed, with terra-cotta tile roofs, pine green doors and balconies decorated with flowers.