Acuña was a shy and timid artist but rich in talent. He was born in 1904 in a small place in Santander of Colombia. He studied in Bogota and later in Paris. He visited Germany and Spain where Pablo Picasso helped him find his personal style. In 1929 he returned to Colombia and made a lot of exhibitions, was praised a lot and was recognised as a...more
Villa de Leyva may seem short on actual sights but one thing it has a plethora of are balconies. It is a town full of charming colonial architecture and one of the hallmark features of such buildings are gorgeous wooden balconies. A stroll through its cobblestone streets with a camera in hand is all the scenery you'll ever need. We timed our visit...more
One of the more charming city parks in Villa de Leyva is Parque Ricaurte. It is across from Antonio Ricaurte's home of birth which now houses a museum full of furniture and weapons of the period. Ricaurte was renowned for his heroic deeds including blowing himself up to do the same to a Spanish battalion closing in on the city's armory full of...more
Parque Narino is an unassuming public park that you would easily stroll past without much notice. It is named after Antonio Narino who was a large figure in Colombia's independence. His home is just up the street on Carerra 9 and is now a small museum of colonial artifacts and personal possessions of the fierce defender of human rights. Admission...more
Iglesia del Carmen is only the second active church in Villa de Leyva and worth peeking into for its paintings and fine carved wood. Your best shots of it will be in the morning light as it faces somewhat easterly though we found its sparse but tasteful light made for good night shots too. Bring a tripod.more
Iglesia Parroquial is a simple parish church built in 1608 with no history of disaster in its past, making for a charming old building very much lost in time. Its key feature is an impressive gold retable that stands out in its otherwise stark surroundings. It is the main building on Plaza Mayor and makes for great photogenic fodder at sunset with...more
Plaza Mayor is quite possibly the largest square in the Americas at an impressive 120m by 120m but it seems even bigger due to a lack of much ornamentation on the square itself aside from the obligatory fountain. The large cobble-stoned area that is the vast square is oddly devoid of any trees or plants of any kind and makes for a somewhat eery and...more
Villa de Leyva's main attraction is an expansive cobblestone Plaza Mayor. This impressive plaza with a total area of 14.000 square metres (measuring 120m by 120m) is supposedly the largest main square in the country. It is the heart of the town and the social life, everything is going on around the plaza. Plaza Mayor is the best place to start your...more
Pasteleria Francesca was a bit of a disappointment for us. We had read quite a bit about this “authentic” French bakery and were looking forward to a hot baguette and hopefully some decent coffee. It is a very cute little place with walls filled of old black and white photos of Paris. It does feel like you've walked into a French cafe once in the...more
Cafe Don Eloy was our stab at doing something inexpensive in Villa de Leyva when it came to eating. After a fairly expensive lunch at the Asadero Llana y Sabana, and a few rather awful beers at the upscale brewpub on the main square, we dropped in this little cafe for a couple sandwiches rather than going for another big (and probably expensive)...more
La Gata is the kind of place that I would not normally go to while traveling around South America but when in Colombia, do as the Colombians do and while this might appear a gringo coffeehouse, it was very much frequented by Colombians. Add to this my wife loves her cake and I was hoping for a decent coffee after one too many weak tintos and we...more
I don't usually go to places on the thoroughfare into very touristy towns like Villa de Leyva and when they don't have menus I truly shy away from them. Asadero Llana y Sabana had all these things going against it but when walking by, it was hard to resist the smell of the meats slowly roasting at its entrance. The woman tending to the meat noticed...more
While I'm not one for indulging in typical gringo-aimed food while traveling, on long trips, it is sometimes nice to eat something aside from the grind of South American budget restaurants that can become tiresome in their lack of variety. What makes these places nice also is the fact that many of them actually cater to locals who now love these...more
Pastelería Francesa is an authentic French bakery, just two blocks from the main square. It is situated in a house with typical wooden balcony and there is a wooden miniature replica of Eiffel Tower at the entrance, a sign that it is owned by a French. This small café with old-style wooden showcases and black&white photos with Parisian motives from...more
While Plaza Mayor may seem a bit too unprotected during the midday sun, it comes to life in the evenings when locals congregate around the immense square to have a coffee or beer and share in animated conversations about their days. In this respect, it is not spoiled in the least and though we are not night owls, we enjoyed strolling the square and...more
While taking some photos of the main square while the sun went down on our first evening in town, we noticed Mr. Coqui's Beer Factory. Figuring it was just a pub, I popped my head in and noticed they did in fact have beers of their own, or at least not the regular mass-produced Colombian beers I'd so far encountered outside the very good Bogota...more
Villa de Leyva's proximity to the capital has made it trendy weekend spot from people from Bogotá. Then the streets, restaurants, bars, shops and places to stay get crowded. Rather surprisingly, Villa de Leyva has some lively nightspots. But most of them are only open on weekends. During the week you'll find the town nice and quiet. Most of the...more
Villa de Leyva is certainly well on the gringo trail but not as convenient as nearby hub town Tunja which you pretty much have to go through to get here. Actually, there are a couple direct buses from Bogota but it's probably easiest to go via Tunja which is actually a great town in its own right. It's about four hours from Bogota and approximately...more
There are only two direct buses daily from Bogotá to Villa de Leyva. Alternativelly you can take a bus to Tunja (3,5 hours) which are very frequent. From Tunja minibuses run regularly and it takes about an hour. The road from Bogotá goes through pretty green valleys before turning at Tunja into a drier area.I woke up very early that morning. Some...more
The bus terminal is is three blocks from Plaza Mayor so you can walk to your hotel or get a taxi if you are too loaded. There are buses to and from Bogota that cover the journey in 4 hours. You can also go to Tunja in one hour and change if you can't find a direct one to Bogota (totally 4,5-5 hours).more
Many artists have found their home in Villa de Leyva. There are dozens of handicraft shops as well as a number of artisan vendors. Various pieces of art and handicrafts can be found here, such as fine basketry, brightly coloured ceramics, jewellery, bags and ruanas (ponchos) as well as woven blankets and rugs. Be sure to visit Saturday market held...more
Shopping is interesting in Villa de Leyva as there are a lot of shops selling little works of art. There are nice handmade pieces of jewelery, fine clothes, antiques, leather goods, and nice decorative objects. The shops are found mostly in the streets around Plaza Mayor, on Carrera 9 and Carrera 10. Even browsing is nice if you don't feel like...more
Libelula is a very eclectic shop. All the items are very original and nicely made. There are leather goods of good taste, handbags, belts.. There are accessories and impressive decorative objects. It's on Calle Peatonal (Carrera 9) just a few steps before 'Indios' Icecreams on your left.Cel : (315) 311 3851 / (315) 6064955Click to see 'Indios'...more
Villa de Leyva is a leisurely place made for walking. You can stroll around charming cobblestone streets and plazas lined by quaint colonial buildings, listen to the sound of church bells and enjoy the lazy rythm of the day gone by. The streets around Plaza Mayor are filled with restaurants, bars and shops with local handicrafts. All the houses and...more
Colombia is known for its breads and bakery products made of corn or corn flour. The recipes vary, depending on the region. Boyacá is especially famous for its almojábanas and arepas Boyacenses. I was recommended by my Colombian friends to try them in Villa de Leyva. To my surprise, it was not so easy to find them. I asked in several shops selling...more
Another characteristic of colonial houses of Villa de Leyva are their wooden doors and shutters. Many of the front doors are massive, with carvings related to the original owner's occupation or status. The town has a regulation that all the buildings have to have similar appearance, white walls and dark green or natural colour of the doors. But...more
Luggage and bags:
The bus station is a bit of a walk from the town center and with cobblestone streets you can forget about wheeled luggage. We needed our backpacks for our recently completed trek in El Cocuy National Park but they also came in very handy here in Villa de Levya!
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: This is a town made for walking with many gorgeous streets to romantically stroll down so bring comfortable shoes, which make the huge cobblestones a bit easier to walk on. Sunny Villa de Leyva is warm by day but cool by night so a jacket is another necessity.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring sunscreen, this is one sunny town.
Photo Equipment: You'll need a wide angle lens to capture Plaza Mayor and it's great for architectural shots too. A poloarizer is handy during the day but best light is early morning/evening when you won't need it. A tripod is another necessity if you want to capture the pretty down at night.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: There is a campground right in town but we opted for a splurge room after our ten days of trekking in El Cocuy National Park.
Miscellaneous: Thanks to D for not only for training for and doing the trek but also for being the perfect person to spend a romantic few days in Villa de Leyva.
This is a Dominican convent founded in 1620. There is a lovely courtyard and in the rooms around it there are exhibits of colonial art, tools, clothes worn by the monks and more. The chapel is situated along one side of the courtyard and inside it is painted in white with paintings on the walls and statues. In the front there is an impressive...more
From El Fósil we went on 2 km to Estación Astronómica Muisca, also called El Infiernito. The Muisca Observatory is dating from the first centuries AD and it was a site for rituals and a place where the Muiscas could determine the seasons. As we arrived we first saw two parallel lines of stone monoliths, which were used to determine the seasons....more
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...more
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...more
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...more