Tunja (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtuŋxa]) is a municipality and city on the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes, in the region known as the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, 130 km northeast of Bogotá. In 2018 the municipality had a population of 172,548.[1] It is the capital of Boyacá department and the Central Boyacá Province. Tunja is an important educational centre of well-known universities. In the time before the Spanish conquest of the Muisca, there was an indigenous settlement, called Hunza, seat of the hoa Eucaneme, conquered by the Spanish conquistadors on August 20, 1537. The Spanish city was founded by captain Gonzalo Suárez Rendón on August 6, 1539, exactly one year after the capital Santafé de Bogotá. The city hosts the most remaining Muisca architecture: Hunzahúa Well, Goranchacha Temple and Cojines del Zaque.

Municipality and city
Main Cathedral
From the top: Main Cathedral, Bust of Juan de Castellanos in the Plaza de Bolívar de Tunja, Statue of Simon Bolivar in the main square, Bridge of Boyacá, Tunja Central Square and Panoramic from the north.
Flag of Tunja
Coat of arms of Tunja
Location of Tunja in the department of Boyacá
Location of Tunja in the department of Boyacá
Tunja is located in Colombia
Location in Colombia
Coordinates: 5°32′N 73°22′W / 5.533°N 73.367°W / 5.533; -73.367
ProvinceCentral Boyacá Province
Founded6 August 1539 (485 Years ago)
EstablishedMarch 29, 1541
Founded byGonzalo Suárez Rendón
 • MayorMikhail Krasnov
 • Municipality and city119.7 km2 (46.2 sq mi)
 • Urban
21.51 km2 (8.31 sq mi)
2,820 m (9,250 ft)
 (2018 census)[1]
 • Municipality and city172,548
 • Density1,400/km2 (3,700/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density7,600/km2 (20,000/sq mi)
 • Metro
Postal code
Area code57 + 8
Websitehttp://www.tunja-boyaca.gov.co - https://www.tunjaculturayturismo.gov.co/inicio/

Tunja is a tourist destination, especially for religious colonial architecture, with the Casa Fundador Gonzalo Suárez Rendón as oldest remnant.[2] In addition to its religious and historical sites it is host to several internationally known festivals and is a jumping-off point for regional tourist destinations such as Villa de Leyva, Paipa, and Sierra Nevada del Cocuy. It is a stop on the Pan American Highway which connects Tunja to Bogotá and Santa Marta and eventually to the northern and southernmost parts of South America.

Demographics and geography edit

Tunja has a population of 172,548 inhabitants according to the 2018 Census. 0.1% of the city is indigenous, 0.4% is black, and 99.5% is white and Mestizo.[1] It is located in central Colombia, at an elevation ranging from approximately 2,700 metres (8,900 ft) to 2,900 metres (9,500 ft). The city centre is at an elevation of 2,820 metres (9,250 ft) above sea level.

Climate edit

Tunja's climate is influenced by its location and altitude. At almost 3000 m it is one of the higher cities in Colombia. As a result, the city features a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cfb) with little variation in temperature throughout the year but a distinct dry season from December to February.

Climate data for Tunja (UPTC) (1991–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 19.75
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 7.41
Average precipitation mm (inches) 21.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 3.27 4.54 8.79 11.9 11.97 10.46 10.27 8.45 7.35 11.1 10.93 5.47 104.5
Source: NOAA[3]

History edit

Pre-Columbian era edit

The earliest evidence of human population on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense has been dated to approximately 12.000 years ago. Homus Tequendama inhabited the area by 6375 BCE. Archeologists have found human skeletons including arm bones in the area. Many archaeological discoveries were found in the area of the present-day city, dated to approximately 150 BCE.

During the 1st millennium AD, the territory was inhabited by the Muisca, who spoke Chibcha and emigrated from Central America through Panama to the Andean Region.[4] The Muisca developed their own religion, calendar and mythology.

According to those myths, it was the brutal cacique and prophet Goranchacha who moved the capital for the northern Muisca from Ramiriquí to Tunja, then called Hunza.

Early Muisca edit


An era when frequent battles among cacicazgos took place, peace was proposed for the region and an agreement was made among caciques to choose a supreme chief to rule them all. Hunzahúa, who came from Ramiriqui, was elected. The capital of his confederation was named Hunza. Hunzahúa took the title of hoa ("great lord", the same meaning as psihipqua who ruled from Muyquytá), and reign over the lands from the Chicamocha to Fusagasugá and from the Llanos de San Juan to Panche and Muzo frontiers, including Vélez territory. This helped to unify the Muisca, especially with respect to their language and religion, until zipa Saguamanchica broke this unity due to differences with the cacique of Guatavita.[5]

Late Muisca (1490–1539) edit


Saguamanchica, with 50,000 soldiers, decided on a massive attack on hoa Michuá,[6] crossing Guatavita and Chocontá, after which the Battle of Chocontá is named. Michuá dealt with him, supported by an army which doubled Saguamanchica, battling around three hours and killing both chiefs. A new hoa, Eucaneme, was installed, during the tense truce between Bacatá and Hunza.

In 1514, Eucaneme found out about the expansionist intentions of the new psihipqua Nemequene. He asked the caciques of Gámeza, Sugamuxi, Tundama and Sáchica to help him to reinforce his army. A battle was fought in Ventaquemada and, when Nemequene was about to become the victor, he was fatally wounded and his troops retreated. Iraca retracted his support and Eucaneme got a truce whose terms would end when the Spanish arrived. When Eucaneme found out the Europeans were around his lands, he decided to stay in Hunza and avoided any aggression against the invaders. He forbade under strict penalties to show the conquistadors the path to his headquarters and when he knew they were reaching him, he sent them gifts and peacemakers, hoping to stop them while he was hiding his treasures.

Hunza in Muisca history edit

History of the Muisca
Sutagao peopleGuayupe peopleTegua peoplePanche peopleMuisca peopleAchagua peopleMuzo peopleGuane peopleU'wa peopleLache peopleBattle of TocaremaBattle of ChocontáBattle of PascaSagipaTisquesusaNemequeneSaguamanchicaMeicuchucaHistory of Bogotá#Pre-Columbian eraNencatacoaHuitaca (goddess)ChaquénCuchaviraChibchacumBochicaChía (goddess)SuéChiminigaguaSpanish conquest of the MuiscaAquiminzaqueQuemuenchatochaMichuáHunzahúaTunja#HistoryThomagataThomagataPacanchiqueGoranchachaMonster of Lake TotaEl DoradoSugamuxiNompanimIdacansásiracaTundamaDuitama#HistorySpanish EmpireMuisca Confederation







El Dorado




Spanish colony (1539-1811) edit

Tomb of Gonzalo Suárez Rendón

Spanish Discovering of Hunza (1537) edit

Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada parted from Santa Marta in April 1536, on the first main expedition into the Andes. His main goal was to find and conquer El Dorado. After months of traveling, he found many Muisca cacicazgos in the Altiplano Cundiboyacense. In his search, he acquired information about emerald discoveries and other treasures in Somondoco and the Llanos. On August 20, 1537, the conquerors arrived, with horses and dogs. Jiménez de Quesada arrived at the headquarters of Quemuenchatocha, finding him in a chair, dressed in gold in the same way as his companions who ran off, leaving him alone. The gold, the emeralds and the fancy fabrics were taken. This conquest took place where later the San Agustin Convent was built. Quemuenchatocha was taken to Suesca, with the hope he would reveal where he hid the rest of his treasure. He abdicated in favour of his nephew Aquiminzaque and retired to Ramiriquí where he died.[7]

Invasion of Hunza (1538-1539) edit

The Spanish Invasion of the territory begins when Jimenez de Quesada captures Quemuenchatocha who is succeeded in life by the young Aquiminzaque. The latter, along with his tribe were taken as an encomienda by Hernán Pérez de Quesada. The new zaque did not show belligerent in front of the Spaniards, and later himself converted to Catholicism. The continuous and numerous demands made by the Spaniards started to create discomfort among the Muisca population.

Aquiminzaque should verify his nuptials with the daughter of the cacique of Gameza and many chiefs decided to go the solemn ceremony. A rumour came to Perez de Quesada that the occasion would be used as an insurrection, for which he apprehended Aquiminzaque and all the caciques, among them the ones from Toca, Motavita, Samacá, Turmequé and Sutamarchán, and condemn them to death. In 1540, the Zaque was beheaded and his death marked the end of the dynasty of zaques of Hunza.[8] In the same way, it points to the disintegration and dispersion of natives in encomiendas along the new Tunja Province.[9]

Don Juan de Castellanos

City Foundation (1539-16th Century) edit

The Spanish city of Tunja was founded on the lands of Quemuenchatocha, where later the convent of San Agustin was built. Founded by Captain Gonzalo Suarez Rendón, on August 6, 1539,[10] the main square was established, also a yard for the church and public buildings around the square; in 1550, the city outlines were consolidated. The same year, The franciscans arrive to the city, and the Dominicans a year later, the Augustinians in 1585 and the Jesuits in 1611; To the foundation, 77 yards are added and divided, along with 70 vegetable gardens, 11 estates and 44 stables. Only until 1616 two parishes are built to receive mestizos and Indians during colonial period: Santa Barbara, at southwest and Las Nieves, at north.[11]

Security and living conditions edit

Tunja has the lowest homicide rate in Colombia and is below average in Latin America according to the report from the International Centre of the Prevention of Crime for 2010.[12][13] 2 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015 makes the city one of the safest in the Americas. According to other sources, this value is four times lower than the national average.[14] Tunja is an example of a safe city.[15]

Northern zone
Emerald Quarter
Bolivar Square, Downtown
Train station, the historic center DHC Tunja
San Agustin Convent
Boyaca Bridge in Tunja, the site where Colombian independence was won

Tourism edit

Relevant historical and tourist sites edit

The streets are named according to 472[16] and Google Maps[17] nomenclatures — (C: calle), (K: carrera), (S: south), (E: east), (A: ave).

Southern Sector

English Name Spanish Name Address
Bridge of Boyaca Puente de Boyacá Rural Area (La Lajita)
Flower Pot Monument Los Tiestos K14-C16
Mushroom Monument Los Hongos A Oriental
St. Martin's Church Iglesia de San Martín Libertador Neighborhood
Bullfighting arena Plaza de Toros K8-C13S

Eastern Sector

English Name Spanish Name Address
Botanical Garden Jardín Botánico BTS Highway (Autopista Circunvalar BTS)
St. Anthony's Church Iglesia de San Antonio San Antonio Neighborhood
Governorate Viaduct Viaducto Paseo de La Gobernación BTS-A.Olímpica
JNN Viaduct Viaducto Jose Nepomuceno Niño C24-Universitaria


English name Spanish name Address
Las Nieves Church and Square Iglesia y Plazoleta de las Nieves K10-C22
St. Ignatius' Church Iglesia de San Ignacio K10-C18
*St. Barbara's Church Iglesia de Santa Bárbara K11-C17
St. Dominic's Church Iglesia de Santo Domingo K11-C19
St. Laureano's Church Iglesia de San Laureano K9-C15
St. Lazarus Hill and Church Loma e Iglesia de San Lázaro San Lázaro Neighborhood
St. Claire Royal Convent Convento de Santa Clara la Real K11-C21
St. Francis Church Iglesia de San Francisco K10-21A
Cathedral Basilica of St. James the Apostle in Tunja[18] Catedral Basílica Metropolitana Santiago de Tunja Bolivar Square
Meetinghouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días C12-K10
Our Lady of Miracles Church Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Milagro (El Topo) K15-C19
St. Augustine Cloister Claustro de San Agustín K9-C23
Cojines del Zaque Cojines del Zaque K4-C12
Republic Forest Bosque de la República K11-C14
Freedom Obelisk Obelisco de la Libertad K10-C14
City Founder Gonzalo Suárez Rendón House and Museum Casa Museo del Fundador Bolívar Square
Juan de Castellanos' Palace and Museum Casa Museo Juan de Castellanos Bolívar Square
Don Juan de Vargas' Palace and Museum Casa Museo Don Juan de Vargas K9-C20
Bolivar Square Plaza de Bolívar K9-C19
Tower Palace (Governorate Palace of Boyacá) Palacio de la Torre Bolívar Square K10-C20
Rojas Pinilla's House Casa Cultural Rojas Pinilla K11-C16
Martyr's Wall Monument Paredón de los Mártires K9-C14
La Pila del Mono's Fountain La Pila del Mono K9-C20
Royal Palace (currently a shopping mall) Plaza Real K14-C20
St. Thomas University Building Edificio Universidad Santo Tomás K12-C19
Santander Park Parque Santander A Colón
Pinzón Park Parque Pinzón K8-C23
Maldonado Park Parque Maldonado C10-C30
La Esperanza Park Parque La Esperanza
Hoyo del Trigo Park Parque Hoyo del Trigo C22-K12

Northern Sector

English name Spanish name Address
St. Agnes' Church Iglesia de Santa Inés C42-A Norte
Hunzahúa Well Pozo de Hunzahúa A Norte, UPTC
Indigenous Race Monument Monumento a la raza indígena La Glorieta
Campus of the Uptc and its natural reserve Campus de la Uptc y su reserva natural A Norte, UPTC
Museum of Natural History Museo de Historia Natural A Norte, UPTC
Museum of Anthropology Museo de Antropología A Norte, UPTC
The Independence Stadium Estadio de La Independencia A Olímpica
Olympic Village Villa Olímpica A Olímpica

Festivals edit

Shopping edit

Downtown edit

Main places of interest are:

  • El Cid
  • El Virrey
  • Teatro Boyacá
  • Cinema Boyacá

Shopping malls edit

Unicentro is a shopping center that features a Jumbo and a Cinemark Theatres among many other stores.

Viva, a brand of Shopping Centers of Grupo Éxito.

Traditional markets edit

  • Plaza de Mercado del Norte
  • Plaza de Mercado del Sur

Education edit

Relative to its small size, Tunja has been important in providing education. A large part of its population are students between high school and university.

Tunja has a considerable number of colleges, among these is the College of Boyacá, the first public school in the territories of Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Colombia, established when these countries were part of Gran Colombia. It was founded on 20 October 1822 by Vice President Francisco de Paula Santander. Among the most important schools are:

  • Colegio de Boyacá
  • Institucion Educativa San Jeronimo Emiliani
  • Colegio Salesiano Maldonado
  • Colegio INEM Carlos Arturo Torres
  • Colegio de la Presentación
  • Gimnasio Campestre del Norte.
  • Colegio Municipal Silvino Rodríguez
  • Escuela Normal Superior Santiago de Tunja.
  • Escuela Normal Femenina "Leonor Álvarez Pinzón"
  • Colegio Los Angeles
  • Colegio Militar Juan José Rondón
  • Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Rosario
  • Colegio Gustavo Rojas Pinilla
  • Colegio Andino
  • Colegio American School Saint Frances
  • Country Bilingual School

Universities edit

Tunja's major university, the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia (Uptc), was founded by General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, and is one of the public universities in Colombia.

Other universities are:

  • University of Boyaca
  • Universidad Santo Tomás
  • Escuela Superior de Administración Pública E.S.A.P.
  • Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia (UNAD)
  • Fundacion Universitaria Juan de Castellanos
  • Corporación Universitaria Remington (CUR-Cread Boyacá)
  • Universidad Antonio Nariño
  • Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana de Colombia
  • Instituto Universitario de la Música y las Artes

Sports edit

The city has two professional football teams: Boyacá Chico and Patriotas F.C. The teams play in the Colombian Professional Football A league. They play their games at La Independencia Stadium in the north of the city.

The stadium was rebuilt for the Copa Libertadores 2009, expanding capacity to 20,630 spectators and meeting FIFA specifications. The city organized the 2008 South American U-20 Futsal Cup in which Brazil was awarded as the championship. Colombia secured the fourth position in the tournament.

The city has a professional basketball team called Patriotas that plays in the Saludcoop Invitational Cup. This team plays its matches in the Municipality Colosseum that has a capacity of up to 5,000 spectators.

Born in Tunja edit

Sister cities edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Infomacion Capital (in Spanish) Retrieved November 17, 2022
  2. ^ (in Spanish) El Turismo: fuerza económica de Boyacá
  3. ^ "World Meteorological Organization Climate Normals for 1991-2020 — UPTC". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  4. ^ "Los orígenes remotos de Tunja". Tunja.gov.co. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  5. ^ (in Spanish) Biography Hunzahúa - Pueblos Originarios
  6. ^ (in Spanish) Biography Michuá - Pueblos Originarios
  7. ^ (in Spanish) Biography of Quemuenchatocha - Pueblos Originarios
  8. ^ (in Spanish){http://pueblosoriginarios.com/biografias/aquiminzaque.html Biography of Aquiminzaque}
  9. ^ (in Spanish){https://web.archive.org/web/20110707053348/http://tunja.gov.co/?idcategoria=438 Nuestra Historia}
  10. ^ (in Spanish) Fundaciones de ciudades y poblaciones - Banco de la República
  11. ^ "Nuestra Historia". 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  12. ^ "Page officiel de la municipalité en espagnol". Tunja.gov.co. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  13. ^ "International Centre of the Prevention of Crime, International report Crime prevention and Community safety: Trends and perspectives 2010". Crime-prevention-intl.org. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  14. ^ Eduardo Posada Carb (21 January 2011). "Aprender de Tunja". El Tiempo.
  15. ^ "Inseguridad en las ciudades: ¿ficción o realidad?" [Insecurity in cities: fiction or reality?]. El Tiempo (in Spanish). 4 January 2011.
  16. ^ "codigopostal4-72.com.co". Codigopostal4-72.com.co. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  17. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  18. ^ "Catedral Basílica de Santiago Apóstol, Tunja, Boyacá, Colombia". Gcatholic.org. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  19. ^ [1] Archived 2013-05-30 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Semana Santa". Tunja.gov.co. Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  21. ^ "Aguinaldo Boyacense La Fiesta Grande de Boyacá para Colombia". Tunja.gov.co. Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  22. ^ "Gobernación de Boyacá". Boyaca.gov.co. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  23. ^ a b c d "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-29. Retrieved 2013-09-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Los Niños Vallenatos del "Turco" Gil - Nacimos para alegrar al mundo". Losninosvallenatos.com. Retrieved 25 November 2017.

External links edit