The second largest city in Colombia is the central city of the department of Antioch – Medellin . It is located in the Central Andes at an altitude of 1500 m, 400 km northwest of Bogotá. Medellin was founded in the 17th century. Until recently, it was considered the most criminal city in Colombia and one of the most dangerous cities in the world. In the 80-90s of the 20th century, the country’s largest drug cartel, headed by Pablo Escobar, was located here. In 1993, Pablo Escobar was assassinated, and the city became calmer. In recent years, Medellin is becoming more and more popular among tourists: the city is surrounded by majestic mountains and full of parks. Two cable cars pass over Medellin, which are part of the city’s metro. Every year in late July and early August, Medellin hosts the colorful Fiería de Las Flores Flower Festival. The festival begins with a “caballero” parade, in which several thousand horsemen take part, and ends with a colossal procession of local residents dressed in national costumes, holding flowers. From the sights of Medellin one can single out the largest brick church in South America – Basilica Metropolitana (early 20th century), located on a high hill (from where the whole city is visible) Pueblito Paisa area – a copy of a typical village of the Antioch department, Plaza Botero square, on which numerous works are exhibited the world-famous Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero, the Museo de Antioca Museum, which also displays Botero’s work, and the Jardin Botanico-Joaquin Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden, where you can see a variety of tropical plants and where an exhibition of orchids opens annually in August. In the vicinity of Medellin, it is worth visiting the city of Santa Fe de Antiochia, whose buildings are an excellent example of colonial architecture.
South of the department of Antioch is the so-called “Coffee Triangle”, which is formed by three provinces: Caldas, Quindio and Risaralda. Coffee plantations stretch here and some of the best coffee in the world is produced. In addition, in these places grows the Wax Palm – the national symbol of the country, which can reach 70 m in height. The Coffee Triangle area will appeal to nature lovers. The main cities of the region are Manizales, Pereira and Armenia.
According to Softwareleverage, Manizales is considered the capital of Colombian coffee, it is surrounded by coffee plantations, where excursions are arranged. Often Manizales compared with the Swiss mountain villages, because the climate here is just as mild, and the air is just as clean. They go to Manizales in order to visit coffee plantations and one of the best national parks in Colombia – Los Nevados. There are 5 volcanoes on the territory of the park, the peaks of which are covered with snow all year round. The central place here is occupied by the Ruiz volcano with a height of 5400 m. Los Nevados National Park is a great place for outdoor activities. Climbing is arranged on the tops of volcanoes, but it is worth remembering that these hikes are quite difficult and are suitable only for physically prepared tourists.
South of Manizales are the cities of Pereira and Armenia, which are also major coffee producers. In their vicinity are the Parque Nacional del Café National Park, which was created on the site of an old coffee plantation (different types of coffee trees are represented here), and numerous coffee museums. Every year in June, the National Coffee Festival is held near Armenia, the obligatory elements of which are the Jeep Parade (the main means of transportation through coffee plantations), the selection of the National Coffee Queen and the Theater Festival.
In the southern part of the mountainous region of Colombia, on the slopes of the Western Cordillera in the valley of the Cauca River, there is one of the world centers of the clockwork dance “salsa” – the city of Cali. In the urban area of Juancito, you can find many discos and salsa halls where Colombians dance all night long. In July, Cali even hosts the Salsa Festival. In addition to the “salsotecs” in Cali, the central square of Cayedo will be of interest, where the oldest church of Cali – Iglesia de La Merced (17th century) – and the Church of La Ermita, the Museum of Colonial Art, the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Gold with a collection of ceramics and pre-Columbian gold items, the Museum of Modern Art, the Natural History Museum, the Sugarcane Museum and the Zoo, which is one of the five best zoos in Latin America. In the vicinity of Cali, on numerous sugar plantations, colonial-style mansions (the so-called “haciendas”) have been preserved. The most interesting haciendas are El Paraiso and Piehechinche.
100 km south of Cali on the slopes of the Puras volcano within the Central Cordillera is the city of Popayan . Popayan was founded by Sebastian de Belalcazar in 1537 at an altitude of 1737 m. de Carmen, Iglesia de Encarnación, Iglesia de San José, Chapel de Belen and the Cathedral, and museums: Museum of Colonial Art, Museum of Religious Art, Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Natural History.
About 40 km southeast of the Puras National Park in the department of Huila is the village of San Agustín.. The village is known for its surrounding archaeological sites, preserved from ancient Indian civilizations, which are now united in the vast San Agustin Archaeological Park. The park covers an area of 310 sq. km, on which hundreds of stone sculptures from 20 cm to 7 m high, dating back to the 1st century BC, are scattered. – 8th century AD e. Stone sculptures depict people, gods and animals. Hiking trails are laid between them for the convenience of tourists. In addition to sculptures in the park, you can see the main ritual place of the ancient Indians – the “Source of Ablution” with a ritual pool, and entire burial complexes, which consist of burial mounds, under which stone tombs with sarcophagi are hidden. A little north of the San Agustin Archaeological Park there are other archaeological zones with burial complexes: El Altos de los Idolos, Alto de Lavapatas and La Caquire. From San Agustin, you can go east to the second most important archaeological zone in Colombia – Tierradentro. The monumental statues and burial complexes discovered here date back to the 6th – 10th centuries AD. A museum has been opened in Tierradentro, where you can see samples of funerary urns, pottery and jewelry found at the excavation site.
In the very south of the department of Huila, it is worth visiting Los Guajaro National Park. There are many caves formed by the streams of the waters of the Sausa River, dense forests and waterfalls. The park was named after the Guajaro bird that lives here and spends the daytime in caves.
In the southernmost part of the mountainous region near the border with Ecuador is the city of Ipiales, famous for the Gothic cathedral of Las Lajas located in the vicinity. The cathedral was built over the deep gorge of the Guitara River in the 18th century on the spot where the face of the Holy Virgin Mary miraculously appeared. The Cathedral of Las Lajas is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Colombia.