Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Just 30mins by bus from San Gil is a magical place called Barichara, an old colonial town that is so pretty, so perfect, like something from a fairytale,
except its real.
Tour of Barichara
Barichara was originally founded in 1705 and is in flawless condition due to care and tasteful restoration work over the past decades. To
say it is a photographers paradise is an understatement. This is a town of cobblestone streets, yellow stone walls, whitewashed adobe walls, fire-red tiled
roofs, cute wooden balconies, little street lanterns, wooden doors and windows, flower pots, tidy parks, stone churches and beautiful facades everywhere.
Buses and Cathedral at the Main Plaza
The bus arrives and leaves from the main plaza beside the impressive golden stone cathedral Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion built in 1760. At the front
of the cathedral is a bust of the first bishop Monsenor Domingo Rafael Afanador (1871-1957) and along the street beside are several small stone figures. In
the park is a bust of former President Aquileo Parra Gomez (1825-1900) who was born in Barichara.
My exploration around a few nearby streets brought me to a
large stone church built upon a large stone road - Capilla de Jesus (Capilla de Cementerio) built in Romanesque style in 1797. There is a beautiful quiet
park beside with a Jesus fountain and lots of trees.
Streets and Houses
The streets and houses are fascinating, sometimes you see interestings things on the walls of peoples
homes through the open windows and cane bells hanging outside above the sidewalk. The most interesting thing I thought was that there were no people to be
seen, the locals were simply not visible.
Mototaxi Up the Hill
To one side of the main plaza are little mototaxis, from there you can see a church far up the top of a long street.
In one of these taxis for 2000 pesos I got a ride up to the old stone church Capilla de Santa Barbara, the original church of Barichara. Outside is a monument
of a pair of oxen (Yunta de Bueyes) to celebrate how much these animals have helped the local farmers shape and plow the land and transport cargo. A large
stone cross stands in the middle of the road.
Good Views at the Top
There are nice views of the town and valley from the top of this steep road. Walking back down was the fun part
- more beautiful houses, streets, shapes, textures and colors. A man passed by on horseback as I walked towards the tall white monument that can be seen from
various points around town. On the street below this monument is a large ant monument. Catching and eating these large-bummed ants is a popular activity
for locals in this area, eaten as a crunchy snack.
Again by mototaxi I took a trip to the other side of town (just 2 minutes) up the hill to park Parque
Mirador for grand views of mountains beyond and the valleys below. Once again the walk back down through the streets was a highlight! So many beautiful angles
for taking photos with the cathedral dome and towers in the distance behind the red roofs. It's like a dream, the perfect place, flawless, unreal, an unscary
I had a quick look inside a museum in the town center after enjoying a nice lunch at a restaurant. The museum
has items representing the history of the area, historic photographs and interesting rock artifacts and fossils.
I enjoyed the nearly 4hrs I spent exploring
Barichara and look forward to visiting again. It was a quick bus ride back to San Gil
to spend the night.
Distances and times to places around Barichara: Guane 9km (20mins), San Gil 20kms (30mins), Cabrera 12kms (35mins), Pinchote 23kms (40mins), Curiti 26kms (55mins),
Parque Nacional del Chicamocha 65kms (90mins), Valle de San Jose 32kms (30mins), Paramo 40kms (40mins) and Bucaramanga