Villa de Leyva is a charming place. Amazing colonial architecture that remained untouched for the years, even being one of the most important places during the independence wars. History, architecture, and envolving great environement. Only a couple of hours away from the capital. You may think there is no much to see, but if you get there, there s pleny of things such as hiking, back horse riding, camping, sightseeing or just relaxing!
There is a great place only 15 min away from there. You can find easy transportation from the town...it is beautiful: POZOS AZULES. Be amazed with the color of the water, the landscape and the calm of nature. A perfect getaway. Ah, you can pay for a back horse ride too!
If you want to go camping, dont miss LA PERIQUERA. Somebody can guide you from the town. Its in the sourranding area of Villa de leyva and it offers a great encounter with nature.
Fondest memory: It is so nice to wait for the sunset and see how people start to gather in the main square. There you just sit on the stairs in from of the main church, or at any of the sourranding bars, to enjoy a great talk accompanied by a beer, some wine or a hot coffee. Amazing!
Fondest memory: I headed to a couple more places and none of them compared so went to discuss it with my wife who was patiently waiting in a small park, enjoying the sunny weather. She thought it was a bit too expensive too but we decided it was a worthy reward for our just completed trek. Of course, she fell in love with it. It was very modern with a gorgeous private bath, something we very much coveted after going without a shower for over a week in El Cocuy National Park, and yet it retained lots of old world charm, right down to the hand woven wool blanket on the bed. It included a very nice breakfast in its cozy dining room and served us very well as a base for forays into the admittedly romantic cobblestone streets of Villa de Leyva. It was only a day later that I realized I had gone to a mid-range option first rather than to one of the cheaper ones but I was not upset for my “mistake.” Some things happen for a reason and this was one splurge that truly was meant to me. It began a stretch of very nice stops in a number of atmospheric colonial towns that made Colombia one of our favorite South American countries. It had already proven itself the contender with its remote wilderness beauty and now was doing just the same in more civilized surroundings.
Fondest memory: The small colonial town was the perfect place for a romantic getaway and on arriving, I set off to find a nice place for us to spend a few nights. When on a two-month trip with a limited budget, you can't exactly spare no expenses but there are times when you can splurge a little and this was what I felt was in order. We have developed a good strategy for finding rooms. My wife sits with the backpacks at a public area and I set off to check out a few rooms. Not only is it easier to look without a pack, you have more bargaining power. Owners know that you are more likely to “just take” something to get the pack off your back. I had a small map of the town and figured I would look at a few cheaper places first to see if they were nice enough but somehow wound up at one of the mid-range possibilities I was keeping in case the budget options did not stack up well. I went in and the place was a beauty and the room itself just perfect. I was a bit set back when the desk clerk said it was 100,000 COP (about $50), by far the most I have ever spent on a room in South America. I figured prices had gone up with the town's growing popularity but it was too much so told him I would keep looking and started to walk out the door. He said if I took it for a couple nights, he could give it to me for 70,000 COP and I said I would talk it over with my wife. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)
Villa de Leyva does not have many sights per se but it is full of romantic cobblestone streets and perfect for strolls, especially early morning or evening.
Fondest memory: We had been in Colombia for nearly three weeks and had stayed in an assortment of ramshackle rooms and truthfully had spent nearly half that time in our tent which we had brought with us for the trek in El Cocuy National Park. My wife had spent our fifth year wedding anniversary in that very tent after helping to carry it along with our other gear about 8 hours into the park's interior. She had been more than accommodating in going along with my desires to “tackle” one of Colombia's toughest treks. After remarking that I could go home right after the multi-day hike, I was surprised to hear her echo my sentiments. We still had five more weeks in the vast country and while I was trying to say that I was completely satisfied with the trip thus far, I was getting the impression that she was just tired and ready for a more relaxing time, even if it meant going home. So, I knew it was time to change gears and that was what I intended to do, even if just for our next stop: Villa de Leyva. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Villa de Leyva, a beautiful small colonial town with whitewashed houses and ornate wooden balconies decorated with flower pots overflowing with bougainvilleas, is untouched by time. No wonder that it is a favoured location to use as a film setting.
Part of the film Cobra Verde (1986) by famous director Werner Herzog was filmed here. It's about the life of Francisco Manoel da Silva (Klaus Kinski) who rose from humble beginnings as a Brazilian farmer to become the master of all slave trading on Africa's western coast during the 1750's.
Cobra Verde trailer
Also a Spanish-language telenovela version of the Zorro story, Zorro: La Espada y la Rosa (The Sword and the Rose) was being filmed here. Half of the houses around the Plaza Mayor, including the church, were painted in various colours for the filming (2007). Here's a video of Villa de Leyva from the time when El Zorro was being filmed there. But after that the houses were restored to their traditional white again.
Corazón (Solitario soy) - music video of Zorro: La Espada y la Rosa
As for the literature, Florentino Ariza, the main character of the book and film Love in the Time of Colera (a novel by Nobel Prize winning Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez) spends part of his life in Villa de Leyva.
Love in the Time of Colera trailer
Favorite thing: This town is undeniably charming. It pleases the eye even if you don't even have time to observe very carefully. I am not very particular about details but my camera has its own way of thinking...So I thought you would like to have a look at what my camera caught without even asking me...
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 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.
more informations Villa de Leyva
Although this map is in german, it's easy to read :-)
Hotel is hotel, museum is museum, tourist information is tourist information;
Busbahnhof is bus terminal and Kirche is church.
an impressive central square,unique,paved with massive stones and lined with white houses
Fondest memory: charm of the past....
only sights of modernity:street lamps!