In Search of the Treasures of the Cundiboyacense Plateau – Bogota Travel Guide
This tour allows visitors to get to know a large part of the Cundinamarca and Boyaca departments. It starts on the Northern Central Road, after La Caro crossing and the town of Tocancipa, approximately 47 kms from Bogota. Tocancipa’s car racetrack is considered to be one of the most modern in Latin America.
The next destination is Sesquile, with beautiful colonial houses and imposing natural beauties like Guatavita lagoon and the Tomine reservoir, where sailing, hang gliding and paragliding can be practiced. Further on, at the Sisga reservoir, fishing is a favorite sport. Then we reach Choconta, where a ground station for satellite communications stands. Not very far from there, we can find Los Volcanes hot springs, famous for their healing properties.
The next town is Villapinzon, in whose surroundings lies a lagoon whose contour has granted it the name of the Map of Colombia. The Bogota River is born here.
Towards the north, the fist town in the department of Boyaca is Ventaquemada, and immediately after we find “Puente de Boyaca”, a historical bridge where the battle granting Colombia’s independence was fought on August 7th, 1819, between the armies of Simon Bolivar and Jose Maria Ba-rreiro, a Spanish royalist.
This historic landmark also features a 18-meter tall monument to Bolivar (including Bolivar and five women representing the countries he freed), the statue of Francisco de Paula Santander, the monument to child Pedro Pascacio Martinez, the obelisque to Freedom and the Banderas Square, among others. A restaurant and a cyclorama, where images related to Bolivar’s campaign are projected, are other features.
Tunja, the capital of Boyaca, is the next destination, possessing beautiful architectural attractions from the colonial period, such as its cathedral, Santo Domingo and San Francisco churches, Santa Barbara church, and San Laureano and Santa Clara chapels. Here also stands the house of founder Gonzalo Suarez Rendon, one of the most important buildings from the 16th century still standing. Other landmarks are the house of Captain Luis Mancipe and of court clerk Juan de Vargas, Bolivar Square, “el Mono de la Pila” and several interesting places such as “Paredon de los Martires”, the Archaeological Museum and “El pozo de Donato”. Its rich gastronomic and hotel offer are worth highlighting.
After Tunja, and towards the West, we find Cucaita, whose ancient doctrine temple stores paintings and images from the 16th century. Getting back to the main road we get to Sachica, known for its olive oil, its olives and cotudos (dessert). Its beautiful colonial chapel is the stage for a live celebration of Holy Week.
A few minutes later we get to one of the best preserved colonial towns in Boyaca: Villa de Leyva. Its main square, cobblestoned like most of its streets, has an area of 14,000 square meters and is the stage of a variety of events all year round. In its surroundings visitors can admire the ictiosaurus and the Ecce Homo convent, a monastery founded in 1620. This town is famous for its kite festival in August, and the Festival of Lights in December. It offers different alternatives for housing, and varied gastronomy.
Taking a detour we reach Raquira, “the land of pots”, so called because of its first and most important product: clay, ceramics and baked earth pottery. La Candelaria desert is located in its surroundings, hosting a convent from the Agustinos Recoletos community, which still preserves and important collection of colonial art.
As we go back to the main road we get to Chiquin-quira, “the religious capital of Colombia”, famous for its basilica, where the image of Virgin Mary, (Colombia’s patron saint is worshiped. It is also famous forthe manufacture of typical instruments from the region, such as tiples, requintos and guitars.
On the way back to Bogota, already in Cundinamarca, it is worth visiting Ubate, a town famous for its cheese. Its minor basilica, a unique French gothic building, is located on the main square; it houses a huge fresco.
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