Villa de Leyva

Sitting at 2149m in the Colombian Andes of the Boyacá department, Villa de Leyva has managed to pass the centuries preserving its original colonial architecture. Going to Villa de Leyva is a bit like going back to 1572, at the time of the Spanish conquest. About 3 hours from Bogotá, it is a great place for a Weekend especially if you are looking for something romantic, with good hiking nearby.

Main Square Villa de Leyva

Villa de Leyva has a dry climate and average of temperatures of 18 degrees all year making it a nice "not too hot/not too cold" weather to visit the rich natural environment as well as some archaeological remains of the Muisca civilisation.

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EVENTS AND CALENDAR
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On Saturdays, on Calle 12, there's a traditional market with typical fruits, vegetables, food and crafts.

Birthday of Villa de Leyva: Villa de Leyva celebrates its birthday on June 12th every year. It's holiday for everybody who gather in the main square to pay tribute to the history of the town.

Holy week: If you're in Villa de Leyva for Easter, you're up for a a week of religious celebrations and cultural activities. Villa de Leyva is a very famous Easter destination for Colombianos.

Festival of Lights: Created in 1986, it takes place in the first or second week of December. The festival includes fireworks and traditions like candles and handmade lanterns to celebrate the Virgin Mary.

National
Kite Festival (Festival de las Cometas): Celebrated since 1975, it is held in August in the Plaza of Villa de Leyva.

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ATTRACTIONS, VISITS AND ACTIVITIES
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Typical cobbled street of Villa de Leyva

The best thing to do in Villa de Leyva is to take a walk to the centre of town. There isn't plethora of churches and monuments like in Cartagena or Barrichara, the beauty of Villa de Leyva lies in its typical houses with wooden balconies and its impressive massive main square. The town is also famous for its fossils and you will see thousands of them directly embedded in the cobbled stones.

The centre was designed according to Spanish urbansism in the 16th and 17th century making walking around Vila de Leyva a step back in time: cobbled streets, balconies, white fronts. Go there with your loved one outside busy times and weekends and romance awaits you.

The main square of Vila de Leyva is 14,000 square meters making it the largest cobbled square of Colombia. In the centre, there’s an old carving stone fountain named Ara Sagrada, which suppolied water to the inhabitants for four centuries.

Also don’t miss the Jardin de los Proceres, the monastery of the Carmelitas Descalzas (literally the bare feet Carmelites), the Convent of Padres, the Church and Convent of San Augustin, Chruch and Convent of San Francisco.

=> See a map of Villa de Leyva

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AROUND VILLA DE LEYVA
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We have been a little disappointed with visits on the outskirts of Villa de Leyva, we thought that the "desert", Posos Azules (blue pounds), vineyards and other activities nearby often offered in packages by tour operators are of little interest. You will have to pay between 5.000 to 10.000 COP for each thing you do on top of what you already paid for the tour (around 40.000 COP) which we thought was a bit abusive. 2 options you can still consider:

1. The Casa Terracota, the world's biggest ceramic house.

Casa Terracota near Villa de LeyvaThis is a really cool construction that could be inhabited by some kind of hobbits or other creatures form a Star Wars movie. Adorable 10 years old Diana will guide you through the numerous surreal rooms, show you the artworks created by her inspired uncle architect Octavio Mendoza Morales, she will take you to the roofs and balconies and will make a duty of taking pictures of you in each one of them.

2. The Archaeological Park of Moniquira.

Muisca Sanctuary near Villa de LeyvaAlthough Millions miles away from what you can see in San Agustin, learning about the Muisca civilisation will be captivating to anybody into archeology.The old Muisca sanctuary has a solar calendar and huge phalluses to honour the land’s fertility, After seeing this, it’s no surprise that Vila de Leyva was the main grain provider of Colombia in its first 200 years. Moniquira is about 7kms from the centre of Vila de Leyva on the way to Santa Sofia.

=> It is opened from Tuesday to Sunday.

Other activities around Villa de Leyva include visiting the Wine yards (Wine of Villa de Leyva is supposed to be one of the bests in Colombia, we tried it, go for beer...), the desert, the posos azules (blue pounds), the ostrich farm, the 1900 museum: none of that is of great interest... 

=> Go horse riding, rent a bike, a buggy or even a quad (around 80.000 COP/hour for a buggy).

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=> Villa de Leyva Travel Guide Part 2: Accommodation, Hotels, Restaurants, Bars, Nightlife, Getting There
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=> Photos of Villa de Leyva
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The best thing to do in Villa de Leyva is to take a walk to the centre of town.

The centre was designed according to Spanish urbansism in the 16th and 17th century making walking around Vila de Leyva a step back in time: cobbled streets, balconies, white fronts. Go there with your loved one outside busy times and weekends and romance awaits you.

The main square of Vila de Leyva is 14,000 square meters making it the largest cobbled square of Colombia. In the centre, there’s an old carving stone fountain named Ara Sagrada, which suppolied water to the inhabitants for four centuries. 

Around the Plaza, you can find bars, restaurants and internet services.

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Villa de Leyva: A Short History

Firstly inhabited by the Muiscas indians, Villa de Leyva was officialy founded on the 12th of June 1572 by Hernan Suarez de Villalobos by order of the first president of Nueva Granada (the actual Colombia + Panana). First a grain producer in the 16th and 17th, the town then turned to tourism, taking advantage to its climate and geography. Vila de Leyva is a Colombian national monument since the 17th of December 1954.

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