The 5 best things to do in Villa de Leyva
Villa de Leyva is located in the heart of Boyaca, nearly three hours apart from Bogota. It is simply amazing. Actually, it may be the most wonderful little town in Colombia. Its streets are all cobblestone roads, while its houses keep that Spanish colonial feeling. All of the houses have white calcareous walls and original ceramic roof tiles. None of the building has more than two stories and the original mouldings have been restored or replaced by replicas.
The main square is the biggest in the country, with a small fountain at its center and a beautiful landscape. Right in front of it lies the first church, also a well preserved colonial temple. The picture of a colonial town is complete with the wooden signs and the old writing fonts. Anyone who comes to Villa de Leyva for the first time definitively finds a Spanish mid XVIII century town. And to do so it’s very charming and appealing.
Nevertheless, the plans in Villa de Leyva go far beyond the mere “colonial” experience. The nearby landscapes, the beautiful countryside and the historical spots surrounding the village are definitely some must see. That’s why we at Colombiabybus have chosen the five best things to do in Villa de Leyva. Join us in this trip to discover the most amazing plans in Villa de Leyva!
The gastronomic tour in Villa de Leyva
In recent years, Villa de Leyva has garnered a reputation of being a gastronomic paradise in Colombia. Even though the local food is quite good, Villa de Leyva has many national and international restaurants you have to try. Here you can find grilled Thai shrimp, Spanish paella, trout in applesauce or Mexican chilaquiles in green sauce. Seafood, Iberic, Mexican, Asian and even Greek or Arab food are available all around the town. For those who like local food, roasted lamb, cuchuco soup or fritanga barbecue are very good options. The restaurants are scattered all over the town, but you may find some of the best ones near the main square. Some of them have beautiful balconies, where you can watch the peaceful life in Villa de Leyva while you have lunch or enjoy dinner. Dare to try some of them and you will have an amazing experience.
Once a year, Villa de Leyva hosts a huge gastronomic festival. It is called the Sabores and Saberes Festival, and gathers the best of the national and international cuisine. It is held in the main square, where the chefs set the food stations. The dishes are very diverse, but usually there’s one native ingredient that everyone must put in their preparations. In recent years, the chosen ingredient has always been a native tubercle, like potatoes or ‘cubios’. Winners of the food competition have mixed it with foreign dishes, like potato pizza or paella with ‘cubios’. The gastronomic festival and tours are very interesting plans. Come to Villa de Leyva and taste the delicacies of native and exotic dishes!
A trip to Boyaca’s vineyards
Villa de Leyva’s countryside may be considered the Colombian Tuscany. Its fertile lands and low hills make it a perfect place to grow grapes and make wine. That’s why you can find many vineyards near Villa de Leyva, producing red, rose and white wine. It’s usually a very nice plan to hit the road and reach one of the multiple farms with wine cellars filled with high quality wine they made themselves.
The most famous vineyard is called Ain-Karim and its wine brand is called “Marquez de Villa de Leyva”. Here, they offer a guided tour to the grapevines, the wine production area and the restaurant. There you can get some tasty wine, as well as a cheeseboard and chocolates to pair them with. The prizes are very reasonable and the food and beverages are fresh and appetizing. If you want to try the local wine brand and take a relaxing trip to the countryside, the vineyard guided tour may be your best option. It’s also a very romantic plan, as there is a “couple experience” tour. Coupled or single, come and visit the Villa de Leyva vineyards!
Dinosaur museum and Gondava
What is known as Boyaca was once a deep part of the Atlantic that dried off millions of years ago. That’s the reason why in the deserts surrounding Villa de Leyva, Sachica and Raquira you can find fossilized sea creatures. One of them is the biggest sea fossil in South America. It was called Kronosaurus and inhabited the oceans in Colombia and Australia. As it was one of the biggest and better preserved fossils in the region, the town decided to build a prehistoric museum around it instead of taking it to some other institution. It’s simply known as the El Fosil Museum and has an impressive collection of ammonites and other sea creatures.
There’s also a Colombian “Jurassic Park” called Gondava. Here, you can find life sized replicas of many dinosaurs, as well as guided tours through prehistoric ages. There’s also a food court and many children attractions. It’s a very nice family plan. You will be amazed by these gigantic creatures that once populated the earth!
El Infiernito (The Little Hell)
One of the least visited places is the archaeological site known as El Infiernito. It was called like that by the Spanish conquistadors because it was a religious indigenous place, deemed heretic back then. It’s officially called the Archaeological Park of Monquira and it has megaliths dated from 2.200 years. It also has some funerary sculptures and a necropolis where some ritual burials have been found. It is also believed that El Infiernito once served as an astronomical and scientific site. According to research, the people who inhabited this land preceded the Muisca nation by hundreds of years.
The most interesting and visually striking part of the park are definitely the stone columns that lie all over the place. The first person to study it properly was the German Baron Alexander von Humboldt. The scientist, who traveled all over Latin America, believed that The Little Hell was an astronomical site to anticipate solstices and equinoxes. Even today, scientists can’t agree whether it had a scientific or a ceremonial usage. If you visit the place you will feel the energy and peace the Native American thought that El Infiernito had. Come and experience the wonders of our oldest forefathers in Villa de Leyva!
The blue ponds
Finally, some of the most recognized places in Villa de Leyva are the blue ponds. They were dug in the mid XX century and the natural minerals gave them its distinctive blue colours. It’s an ideal place to hike, trek and even horse-riding. It is the most peaceful place you can find in miles and it’s so beautiful you’ll never forget it. It’s a nodal point in the region and you can come here after having some wine in the vineyards or admiring the prehistoric and pre-Columbian sites near Villa de Leyva. Don’t miss the blue ponds when you are in town!
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