Popayán Things to Do

  • some yellow adds the right spice
    some yellow adds the right spice
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  • the dome from below
    the dome from below
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    dean on in B&W
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Most Recent Things to Do in Popayán

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    Iglesia de San Francisco

    by richiecdisc Written Jan 4, 2011

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    The Iglesia de San Francisco is perhaps the most stunning church in a town full of such colonial gems and appropriately enough it is its oldest as well. Built in the late 1700s, the imposing structure is even more impressive inside, with seven separate and unique side altars. It is also different in its color scheme with a chartreuse hue.

    Best light for exterior photography is morning though not too early as much of the structure is in shade.

    There are six mummies on display, uncovered during a 1983 earthquake but you'll need to find someone to conduct the one hour tour as there is no booth set up for such purposes. The cost is 1000 COP (50 cents) once you happen upon your guide!

    early morning Iglesia de San Francisco Iglesia de San Francisco's chartreuse interior a grand interior chartreuse chandelier later in the day w/ more people
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    Strolling the Streets of Historic Centre

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 22, 2009

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    Surprisingly sophisticated and well preserved Popayán has just about everything you could hope to find in a Spanish colonial city. The bright white buildings and the high architectural standard doesn't just extend for a few blocks around the central plaza, but covers the whole downtown area.

    Within the city, there are some nice walks offering excellent views of Centro Historico, several worthwhile museums, galleries, churches, and many good cafés, bars and restaurants. As in many Latin American towns, the central square serves as the social center of the city where you can buy a cup of hot coffee or meet with a friend. It is usually full of street vendors and at night concerts or performances are taking place sometimes.

    Popayán is a very enjoyable place just to stroll around without any particular plan. You can walk hours and hours, admiring the details of all those beautiful centuries-old buildings. Each turn of the corner brings another surprise or picturesque view.

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    Old Bridges

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 22, 2009

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    To the north of the historic centre on the Río Molino two unusual bridges can be seen. The Puente de la Custodia is the smaller of the two and was built in 1713 as a crossing point for priests to enable them to visit the poorer areas of the city. The larger bridge, Puente del Humilladero, was constructed 160 years later alongside the old one. It was designed and built by an Italian priest and a German engineer whose mummified remains are on view in the Museo de Arte Religioso. The 178m long walking bridge, constructed in Roman style and built over 12 brick arches, is still used today.

    Puente del Humilladero Puente del Humilladero Puente del Humilladero Puente del Humilladero Puente del Humilladero
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    Teatro Municipal Guillermo Valencia

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 22, 2009

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    It is worh strolling past the early 20th century eclectic Teatro Municipal Guillermo Valencia, one of the few buildings in the centre of Popayán that are not painted white. Inaugurated in December 1927 with the presentation of Verdi's Troubadour. The 900 seat auditorium was restored in 1987 but retains a retro style. The project relied on the supervision of the engineer Luis Eduardo Ayerbe. The house reopened its door to the public in August 1998.

    Beautiful Teatro Municipal Guillermo Valencia is the scene of events, such as Festival de Música Religiosa, Semana de la Afrocolumbianidad and Encuentro Nacional de Tríos, among many others that take place here every day.

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    Capilla de Belén

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 21, 2009

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    Capilla de Belén (Belén chapel) on top of a hill is a nice little church overlooking Popayan. You have to follow Calle 4 with Carrera 1 and then a pleasant path with trees and statues leads to the church. Dedicated to Ecce Homo, patron saint of the city, the church was built in 1681 by the wealthy and generous artisan Juan Antonio de Velasco. It once belonged to the Carmelite order. The original church was destroyed in the 1885 earthquake. One tower was damaged in the earthquake in 1925. During the restoration both towers were slightly changed.

    Its construction is simple and details of typical Spanish colonial style can be seen. The courtyard in front of the church offers a beautiful view of the city of Popayán and its surroundings.

    statues on the way to the church
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    Iglesia La Ermita

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 21, 2009

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    La Ermita, on the site of the first chapel established by Sebastián de Belalcázar, is the city's oldest standing church, dating from 1546. The church, with its simple white-washed exterior, is reached by ascending the incline of the street. This hermitage underwent restorations between 1860 and 1870. Works in the early 20th century changed the roof and façade.

    It features a plain single-naved chapel comprised of wooden pattern of raised lines. La Ermita is worth seeing for its fine altar which bears the image of an ancient Austrian two-headed eagle, and frescos that were discovered after the earthquake of 1983. The church is only open for mass.

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    Iglesia de San Jose

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 21, 2009

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    Iglesia de San Jose is also known as Templo de la Compañia de Jesús (Temple of Jesus) because it belonged to the religious order. The church was created by the Jesuit Simon Schenherr and built in 1702 continuing the architectural guidelines of the Jesuits during the Baroque period in America.

    When the cathedral was destroyed in 1785, Iglesia de San Jose functioned as a cathedral. The church has undergone some changes, most recently in 1983. Painted yellow, it is one of Popayán's most distinctive structures. Unfortunately, it's only open for mass.

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    Iglesia de Santo Domingo

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 21, 2009

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    Iglesia de Santo Domingo was built in 1741 after an earthquake destroyed the original chapel. Built in baroque style, the church is notable for the stonework around its doorway which depicts exotic flowers and animals, and for the image of Nuestra Señora del Rosario behind its altar, brought from Spain in 1588. The pulpit and the fountain are designed by the same great person of the era of the independence of Colombia, Francisco José de Caldas.

    In the 1983 earthquake the church suffered severe structural damage but is now completely restored. A former monastery next door now houses the Universidad de del Cauca. On Good Friday the procession leaves from this church.

    It is open daily 08:00am-07:00pm.

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    Iglesia de San Francisco

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 21, 2009

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    Iglesia de San Francisco is Popayán's largest church and truly a masterpiece of colonial art. Destroyed in the 1736 earthquake and then reconstructed between 1775 and 1795, it was designed by Spanish architect Antonio Garcia. The beauty of the atmosphere, the soft light of the stained glass windows, the excellent paintings, statues and goldwork, every detail of its construction assure the visitor of an incomparable experience when visiting this church.

    Iglesia de San Francisco has baroque façade. Its tower was dedicated to San Antonio and it holds a 3-ton bell. The bright interior has a stunning gilded wooden high altar and a collection of seven side altarpieces. The church was severely damaged in the 1983 earthquake. Extensive renovation followed and it is now in remarkable condition.

    It is open daily 07:00am-07:00pm.

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    Parque Caldas - the Main Square

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 21, 2009

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    Shaded by tall palms, the main square in town is called Parque Caldas, after one of Popayán's most famous citizens, Francisco José de Caldas, the independence fighter whose statue is here. The 18th century Torre del Reloj, which faces the square, is one of the finest clock towers in the country. A few steps from here is Catedral de Popayán, completed in 1906. Around the park you find several banks, cafés (Juan Valdez, among others) and the main Tourist Office.

    Unfortunately, Parque Caldas was under heavy construction during the time of my visit so I could only vaguely imagine what it would look like. But by the lucky chance I was there during Christmas time so I could at least enjoy Christmas decoration at night which was quite nice.

    Parque Caldas at Christmas time
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    Museo Guillermo Valencia

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 21, 2009

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    Many of Popayán's museums are the historical homes of famous and admired citizens. One of them is the colonnaded Museo Guillermo Valencia, dedicated to the Popayán born poet, translator and politician Guillermo Valencia who once lived here. His son, Guillermo León Valencia, was Colombian president from 1962 to 1966.

    The gorgeous 18th century building is full of period furniture, paintings, old photos and documents related to the poet. In front of the house is a park where stands the statue of the poet. From the museum there is a nice view of Puente del Humilladero.

    The museum is open 10:00am-05:00pm Tue-Sun, closed noon - 02:00pm; admission was 2.000 COP (December 2008).

    Guillermo Valencia's poems

    colonnaded 18th century building with the patio the interior a piece of period furniture %iPuente del Humilladero%i - view from the museum the entrance
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    Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower)

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 21, 2009

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    Next to the Cathedral on Plaza Caldas is an important landmark of the city, Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower), built between 1673 and 1682. The clock was designed by Francisco José de Caldas and the mechanism brought over from England. It was installed on the tower in 1737. The clock operated through two lead weights, which were replaced by Antonio Nariño in 1814, because he needed lead for making the bullets for the War of Independence.

    As most of the important buildings in Popayan, Torre del Reloj was severely damaged in the 1983 earthquake. It was then completely restored. The clock stopped working and it was sent to London to repair. It was finally placed in la Nariz de Popayán (Nose of Popayán) as the poet Guillermo Valencia called it.

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    Catedral de Popayán

    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 20, 2009

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    On Parque Caldos, the neo-classical Catedral Basílica Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (the Cathedral) is Popayan's newest religious building, built between 1859 and 1906 after an earthquake destroyed the previous church. Design and construction of the beautiful dome were the work of don Adolfo Dueñas. The cathedral was remodeled in 1953 and restored again in 1982. Severely affected in the 1983 earthquake, it is today completely reconstructed.

    The Cathedral is a testimony to the clean lines of Roman architecture. The whitewashed exterior is accented by columns with ionic capitals. The interior is painted in pale colours, from yellowish-white to light blue and grey, with gold details. A modern screen with textured gold background, depicting the Immaculate Conception, adorns the altar.

    It is open only for mass which is held several times a day.

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    Bridges

    by MalenaN Written Oct 22, 2008

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    At Carrera 6, across Rio Molino, there is a 178 metre long pedestrian bridge. It is a solid stone bridge with 12 arches and it was built in the 19th century. This big bridge is Puente del Humilladero. Next to it is the much smaller Puente de la Custoda. It was built in the 1713 to enable priests to visit the poorer areas on the other side of the river.

    Puente del Humilladero Puente del Humilladero Puente de la Custoda
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    Teatro Municipal Guillermo Valencia

    by MalenaN Written Sep 8, 2008

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    In the corner of Calle 3/Carrera 7 is the beautiful Teatro Municipal, one of the few non white buildings in the centre. Construction of the theatre was finished in 1927. It can be worth to ask what performances there are in the evenings you visit. Unfortunately I didn’t think of that until I had left Popayan.

    Teatro Municipal Guillermo Valencia Teatro Municipal Guillermo Valencia
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