Villa de Leyva, also called Villa de Leiva, is a touristic colonial town and municipality, in the Ricaurte Province, part of the Boyacá Department of Colombia. The town is a Colombian National Heritage Town and is on the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Villa de Leyva is located 37 kilometres (23 mi) west of the departmental capital Tunja. It is about three hours by car or bus from Bogotá.
Villa de Leyva
Villa de Nuestra Señora
de Santa María de Leyva
|Founded||June 12, 1572|
|Founded by||André Diaz Venero de Leyva|
|• Mayor||Josue Javier Castellanos Morales|
|• City||128 km2 (49 sq mi)|
|Elevation||2,149 m (7,051 ft)|
|• Density||130/km2 (340/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Colombia Standard Time)|
Located away from major trade routes in a high altitude valley of semi-desert terrain, and with no mineral deposits nearby to exploit, the town has undergone little development in the last 400 years. As a consequence, it is one of the few towns in Colombia to have preserved completely its original colonial style and architecture: the streets and large central plaza are still paved with cobblestones, and many buildings date from the sixteenth century. This has resulted in Villa de Leyva becoming one of Colombia's principal tourist attractions, and it was declared a National Monument on December 17, 1954 to preserve its architecture. The town and the surrounding countryside, which contains several sites of interest, are popular weekend destinations for citizens of Bogotá, and attract an increasing number of foreign tourists.
As a result of its cool temperatures, dry climate, and rich soil, Villa de Leyva has established itself as a wine region, with the emergence of a number of wineries around the town in recent years.
The area of Villa de Leyva was inhabited early in the inhabitation of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense. The earliest archaeological evidence has been surfaced around El Infiernito, an archeoastronomical site dating back to pre-Herrera times. The Muisca were the inhabitants of the area at the time of the Spanish conquest and the zaque of Hunza ruled over the area of Villa de Leyva.
Arts and culture edit
There are several festivals held throughout the year, including a gastronomical festival in November, the water festival, the tree festival, the Villa de Leyva Jazz Festival in July, the International Kite-flying Festival in August, the onion beauty pageant in October, and the Festival of Lights on December 7. There are also several musical, painting and theatre events which are available throughout the whole year. As a gastronomic destination, restaurants tend to have live music bands or singers. There are also enjoyable storytellers who perform weekly in the main square for the entertainment of usual pedestrians or tourists. It is also common to rent bikes for historical tours of the town and its outskirts
The focus of the town is the Plaza Mayor, which at 14,000 square meters is the largest square in Colombia and believed to be the largest entirely cobbled square in South America.
The town's most famous son is Antonio Ricaurte (1797–1814), a captain in Simon Bolivar's army fighting for independence, and who died in a famous act of self-sacrifice at San Mateo in what is now Venezuela. The house in which he was born, on the Plazuela de San Agustín, was acquired by Colombia's Air Force in 1977 and turned into a military museum.
Villa de Leyva has also been home to two other well-known figures in Colombian history. Antonio Nariño, best known for translating The Rights of Man into Spanish and a leading advocate for Colombian independence, lived the last few years of his life and died in Villa de Leyva. Luis Alberto Acuña (1904 – 1993), one of the most important Colombian artists of the 20th century, also spent his final years in the town. The houses of both men are now museums containing their personal properties, and in the case of Acuña, a selection of his works, including two murals on the walls of the internal patio.
The House of the First Congress, where the First Congress of the United Provinces of Nueva Granada met on October 4, 1812, is located on the north corner of the main plaza. It is currently the site of the municipal council.
A few miles further west is a Muisca astronomy observatory, made of phallic stones, colloquially named El Infiernito ("little hell" in Spanish), as the Spanish conquistadors were horrified by the stones and proclaimed that the Muisca would be banished to hell for their obscene representations.
To the north-east of Villa de Leyva, the land rises to cloud-forest and includes the national park of Iguaque, and a group of seven waterfalls collectively named La Periquera, 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the town centre.
Villa de Leyva was named a Pueblo Patrimonio (heritage town) of Colombia in 2010. It was among 11 municipalities nationwide that were selected to be part of the Red Turística de Pueblos Patrimonio original cohort.
Near Villa de Leyva are several other sites of interest. The valley in which the town is located is rich in fossils from the Paja Formation (Cretaceous era), the most famous being a near-complete Monquirasaurus discovered in 1977 about 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Villa de Leyva. Known simply as El Fósil, the fossil was left in situ where it was discovered and a museum was built around it: another smaller Monquirasaurus fossil was discovered nearby and brought to the museum to be displayed alongside the larger specimen. In the same formation the fossil ichthyosaurs Platypterygius sachicarum and Muiscasaurus catheti and the brachiosaur Padillasaurus leivaensis and pliosaur Brachauchenius, later reclassified as Stenorhynchosaurus, have been discovered.
El Infiernito, pre-Columbian archaeoastronomical site
Sculpture of Madonna and Child
Christ with outstretched arms
Altarpiece of Church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario
Church del Carmen
Church of the colonial Hospital of Villa de Leyva
Colonial City Hall
Ancient hacienda and mill
colonial courtyard of a mansion
Paleontology museum of Villa de Leyva
Ammonite monument in Villa de Leyva
Paleontological museum with El Fósil
House where Antonio Nariño died
La Periquera waterfall
Local ice cream store
Christ with outstretched arms on the top of the town
Statue of Antonio Ricaurte
In popular culture edit
- Florentino Ariza, the main character of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), is sent to Villa de Leyva, but never arrives there.
- Part of the film Cobra Verde (1987) by Werner Herzog was filmed here
- The Spanish-language soap opera El Zorro, la espada y la rosa (2007) has been filmed here
See also edit
- "South of Ricaurte Province". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2022-01-11.
- "Bogotá to Villa de Leyva". Rome2rio. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
- David Carr (October 22, 2009). "Villa de Leyva, a Graceful Window on Colonial Colombia". NY Times. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
- "Four Wine Trails through New World Regions". Wine Enthusiast. 2019-02-07. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
- (in Spanish) Official website Villa de Leyva
- "GUÍA: Red Turística de Pueblos Patrimonio de Colombia" (PDF). Fondo Nacional de Turismo de la República de Colombia - FONTUR. Dec 2020. Retrieved 29 Mar 2021.
- Platypterygius sachicarum in the Paleobiology Database
- Muiscasaurus catheti in the Paleobiology Database
- Padillasaurus leivaensis in the Paleobiology Database
- Brachauchenius in the Paleobiology Database