The Church of Santa Barbara dates from the beginning of the 17th century. It is painted in yellow with white details. The unusual thing with this church is that it has got an octagonal Moorish bell tower with a balcony around it.
The church was never open when I visited Mompós but is only open on Sundays and Holidays between 14 -19.
The Church of San Francisco is one of the oldest in Mompós and construction of the church begun in 1564. The exterior is painted in red and white. And so is the interior, but there there is more white. The church has got three aisles all with fine retables. The roof is of wood.
It was open when I passed during the day.
Mompós botanical garden is a small garden along Calle 14, a few blocks away from the river. It was founded by Carlos Pontón Rangel (1918 - 1991) who was born in the town. There are around 3700 different species of plants in the garden, some from other parts of the world.
There is no sign outside but I had got the direction from the Tourist Office and knocked on the gate to the garden. I was shown around by the man living there and taking care of the garden. He had a lot to tell about the different plants, which many of them have medical use, and it was very interesting. Unfortunately I didn’t understand everything as my Spanish is not so good.
There is no special entrance fee but you pay what you want after the guided tour.
This colonial house is also called Casa Bolivaríana because Simón Bolívar stayed here once and in the room where he slept there are objects related to him on display. In other rooms there is an exhibition of religious art, mainly with objects from the 18th and 19th century. It’s not allowed to take photos in those rooms, only at the courtyard and in a room with the Mompós cross and some statues.
The museum opened up here in 1990. It is open for visitors between 9 - 12 on Monday - Saturday.
Entrance fee was 3000 pesos (July 2007).
Rio Magdalena which pass Mompós is a 1543 km long river and runs from the mountains in Departamento del Huila in the southwest of Colombia to the Caribbean Sea in the north. When I was in San Agustín I visited the place (El Estrecho) where the river has its narrowest point, only 2 metres. It is difficult to believe it is the same river when you see it in Mompós. Mompós is situated on a big island so the Magdalena River is divided in two branches here, but it is anyway a broad river. Looking at tree branches floating in the water you could see there was a high speed of the running water and that this not is a good place for swimming.
Casa de la Cultura is housed in another fine colonial mansion and is worth a visit. Here objects related to the towns history are on display. I was first guided through the rooms and after that I could walk around on my own.
Casa de la Cultura is open for visitors between 8 - 17 on Monday - Friday.
Entrance fee was 1000 pesos (July 2007).
The Holy Week celebrations are very big in Mompós, one of the biggest in the country. During that week a gilded Santo Sepulcro is carried around the streets during the processions. This Santo Sepulcro is kept in Church of San Agustin where it is standing in the back, just inside the doors. There are also statues in the church that are used in the Holy Week processions.
The church was built in the 16th century.
Iglesia de Concepción is the principal church in Mompós. It is the biggest one and it is open more frequent. Construction of the church begun in 1537, but it has been altered many times and in the 19th century it was extensively reconstructed. The interior is rather plain and painted in white.
The church is open between 6 - 12 and 18 - 20.
Mompos was a surprisingly great place for bird-watching. We may not have seen the sheer variety of other places along our Colombian travels but they were some of the best up close encounters. Mornings were best but later afternoon was not bad either. We saw a stunning Great White Heron fishing on the banks of the river, quite a few colorful smaller birds fluttering from tree to tree, but surely our greatest sighting was a gorgeous Kingfisher. These amazing birds are very acrobatic and you can count yourself lucky indeed to watch their graceful endeavors to secure food.
The riverfront area that runs along Rio Magdalena is Mompos' most charming feature. The river itself is a lazy meandering affair but wide and strewn on either side with gorgeous trees that will have you imagining you are in an even more exotic locale awaiting Humphrey Bogart's African Queen to come up and whisk you off to points unknown. It's a great place to have a meal, a drink or just stroll. It is also a great spot for bird-watching.
While there are few real sights in Mompos, it does not fall short in the realm of colonial charm and wandering its quiet streets is pure joy if one gets out of bed early and enjoys the architecture during the coolest hours. The style is pure Mompos and is a bit unlike anywhere else in Colombia. In fact, it reminded us more of Laos at times and for that reason had an air of colonial Asia. Of particular interest are the elaborate wrought-iron grilles that cover many extended window sills as well as ornately carved wooden doors. If one is a fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, there can be no better way to spend your days in Mompos than strolling through these great old buildings and imagining the town's former glory.
While Mompos does not have lots to do or see per se, it does have lots of atmospheric places to hang out and also take photos. One of these is its main square, Plaza Real de la Concepcion. Its key feature may be its namesake church but equally stunning is the very run down old building complex directly across from it which acts as the backdrop for the early morning food stalls that serves breakfast to the locals. Though the building was only of passing interest during the morning hours, I found it particularly alluring late in the afternoon after the make-shift food stalls had cleared away and the sun was low in the sky, casting an amber hue to the decaying structure. It's odd that in a town that seems so well-preserved that the town would let such a key building fall into such disrepair but to be honest, it would lose something if all spiffed up.
Perhaps the most interesting “sight” of Mompos is its Cemeterio Municipal. This is one of the most atmospheric cemeteries I've ever seen, with great white-washed above-ground tombs with “hotel-like” filled and ready-to-be filled slots. There is a tiny chapel in the center but most intriguing are the large group of cats that seem to call the cemetery home. There is great light early morning but we found it even better at dusk, with an entirely different look. It was well worth going twice and there is a nice little park at its entrance where with shady trees that locals (and you perhaps?) like to linger under.
There are two additional colonial churches in Mompos. There is little information about them and though we enjoyed their exteriors, we never saw either open so not sure they are still operational That said, their exteriors were well-preserved and it's a shame the town does not promote them if they are now not in use as many visitors would likely want to see their interiors. While I am not a big fan of turning churches into touring sites ala Cartagena, it is nice to have them open to the public at perhaps a nominal fee.
Mompos has its share of well-preserved colonial churches and perhaps most stunning is Iglesia de Santa Barbara which sits prettily on the Rio de Magdalena on the edge of town. The 1630 beauty is yellow with ornate white trim featuring native plants and features a baroque octagonal bell tower with an odd wooden balcony half-way up. It is something to behold from the outside but has a particularly interesting interior but to see it you'll have to wait for a mass as it is not open to the public otherwise. Since it was right next to La Casa Amarilla and we were staying there, we did manage to make such a visit. It was full of not only worshiping Momposinos but also bats which flew from the rafters over the prayers heads who seemed quite oblivious to their fluttering.