The impressionist landscape that looks like what Pissarro would have painted is a three-hour drive away from Bogotá. It is one of the most intact colonial villages of Colombia.
Villa de Leyva a dramatic setting lying on the edge of a mountain range. The hilly lush landscape of rich greens, red roofs and bright blue sky that reminds you of Tuscany vineyard region provides a nice walking and horse-riding backdrop, especially on a dry and breezy day with a blazing sun. Stepping onto its cobbled streets, surrounded by the quaint colonial houses takes you back in time.
It’s considered to be one of the main tourist sites worthy of a visit in the country. However, you have to hurry before the village loses its magic. Commercial activities of crafts shops have already terrorised the colonial buildings that are similar to a Moroccan ryad. You enter through a small doorway of a house of tall white walls with nothing that would indicate the size or depth underneath. Once you get inside the building it opens up into a tree-lined courtyard with a fountain, and a colonnade across the whole first floor.
|The main square of Villa de Leyva|
Apart from the colonial houses, visitors also come here for the Pozo Azul. The name ‘blue wheel’ has been coined for the lakes of sub-terrain water that has been tainted by a bright blue hue because of the mineral content. Unfortunately that also means that no swimming or bathing is allowed to avoid any pollution of the content and colour..
|Pozo Azul near Villa de Leyva|
The Jurassic gigantic kronosaurus (an ancient cousin of the lizard that looks like a crocodile..) fossil that was discovered has also ensured the village to be on Colombia’s ‘must-see’ list. Otherwise most Bogotános flock to the village on the ‘night of little candles’ (8thof December every year) for some of the most elaborate fireworks in the country (the fireworks in 2012 lasted 45 minutes, for the record).
Despite becoming a little like a tourist theme park, Villa de Leyva is still your good relaxing weekend option to get away from the hustle and dark air of Bogotá. (Being the second top choice on the Lonely Planet website also consolidates its status as a worthy destination!) You simply need to go before the whole village gets eaten by ‘tourist-friendly’ red lanterns that adorn the white walls and risk turning Villa de Leyva into another Lijiang!
|Typical colonial houses in Villa de Leyva|