One thing you notice right away are the many gorgeous doors of Barichara. While it may lack in the balcony department compared to other Colombian gems, it lacks not when it comes to doors. Jim Morrison would be proud to call this his final resting place.
This was one of best bird sightings in Colombia and to be honest probably ever. I guess what make it so special was it being so unexpected. We were just checking out a hilltop church when I spotted what looked like, and turned out to be, one very large and colorful bird. The Motmot is indeed colorful, with a near electric blue crown and equally stunning long tail. The large bird can reach 50 centimeters and is found in highland forests from Mexico to central South America. Colombia was a prime place to spot one and that we did, even though we didn't know anything about it prior!
Though it dates back to 1831, Capilla de San Antonio has the distinction of being the newest church in town and in such a small town as Barichara, it's likely you'll walk by it if you are wandering its charming streets.
The Camino Real is a historic 9 kilometer hike along an ancient stone-paved road that links Barichara with the even more quiet town of Guane. This indigenous trail is well marked and if done to Guane from Barichara, mostly downhill and will take around 2 hours one-way.
We thought about doing it but buses back did not sound very plentiful late afternoon and that was when we would be trying to get back to town. We would have then had to catch another bus back to San Gil, making for a day a bit too full of buses for us. It was also midday by the time we got to the trail and it is largely unprotected so we would have been in the blaring sun the whole way. Lastly, it was a bit hazy and that combined with midday light, not exactly a grand photo opportunity. This would be best done early morning and probably easiest if you are staying in Barichara rather than having to backtrack to San Gil.
It is worth checking out even if not doing the trail as it is an old stone trail which has been proclaimed a National Monument.
The simple Capilla de Jesus Resucitado belies an incredible carved wooden altar that is well worth peeking in for but the cemetery just next door is its true calling card with elaborate stone tombs and as seemed par for the course the day we were in town, fair bird-life.
The Parque para Las Artes is a cute little area filled with statues all relating in some way to water and things that live there. It's not so much as a park per se but there are great views back into town as well as the valley leading to nearby Guane. There are also many birds in the park and the area surrounding it and worth going up for that alone.
At the north end of town, scenically situated on a hill overlooking the town, the painstakingly reconstructed Iglesia de Santa Barbara hides well the fact that only its facade is original. Its simple interior is a nice place to take a quiet breather and escape the midday sun.
The key feature of Parque Principal and the most impressive building in town as well is the imposing Catedral de la Immaculata Concepcion. The fairly elaborate 18th structure is made of pretty reddish stones that turn a stunning deep orange at sunset so well worth hanging in town until later in the afternoon if you are only day-tripping. It stands out particularly well due to most of the other buildings in town being white. The interior is simple but very pretty and well worth peeking in to see. It is also a cool oasis if spending the day in town as during the midday sun's greatest strength, even the shady park can get a bit hot.
As one might expect in such a charming colonial town as Barichara, its town square is the focal point of all social life. Much like neighboring San Gil and unlike most of the mountain towns we had thus experienced in Colombia, Barichara's Parque Principal is a lush affair, full of trees that provide ample shade for its lingering visitors, most of whom are surely locals chatting away for hours. Where there are such congregations of people, there are generally vendors trying to make money supplying the kinds of things their target audience might want. In this case, there are many people hawking beverages, ranging from hot to cold with many walking around with thermoses and offering a coffee or tea. Ice cream is always a favorite and sliced fruit is also plentiful. If you would like a beer, there are many shops along the square that sell them. All this adds up to a great people-watching opportunity.
Most people who travel to Barichara are going not for sights per se but for the overall beauty of an incredibly well-preserved colonial town that looks as if it were preserved in a time-capsule. The architecture is stunning in its simplicity and the overall effect is as if truly stepping back into another era, one approximately 300 years ago. This preservation is no accident as since being declared a national monument in 1978, the town has been restored and scrubbed up to befit such status. It is nonetheless a joy to wander its quiet streets soaking in what is an atmosphere quickly disappearing in modern day South America. Enjoy it while you can.
Capilla de San Antonio is different from the other churches in Barichara in the way that it is partly painted white (like the houses). Also the interior is painted white. Capilla de San Antonio is from 1831. That makes it the youngest of Baricharas churches.
Another of the small churches in Barichara is Capilla de Jesús Resucitado, two blocks west of the cathedral. It is built in the same stone as the other churches and has a simple interior. It was constructed in 1797. This church is situated next to the cemetery, which is worth a visit for its stone and ironwork.
Casa de la Cultura is a museum situated in a fine colonial house on the west side of Plaza Principal. In the rooms around a typical courtyard there are different kinds of objects related to Barichara’s history on display. There are fossils and pottery of the Guane Indians, things used in daily life like wagons and typewriters, photos and a temporary art exhibition.
Casa de la Cultura is open between 8 – 12 and 14 – 18 on Mondays to Saturdays, and between 9 – 13 on Sundays.
Next to Iglesia de Santa Barbara is a sculpture park, which was constructed in 1988. Here you can see 22 stone sculptures, all inspired by water. They are made by different artists from the region and eleven different countries.
Another name of the park is El Parque Para Las Artes Jorge Delgado Sierra.
In one corner of the park there is a stage.
From the main square I walked up the hill on Calle 6 to the Iglesia de Santa Barbara, which is standing at top of the town, by a small square. There is a nice view from here. This church was carefully reconstructed in the 1990s and it is now often used for cultural events like concerts and art exhibitions, and it is also used for weddings.