Tuesday, May 3, 2011

seeing Colombia: Villa de Leyva part I

As I mentioned in this post last week, we spent a few days over the boys' spring break at the town of Villa de Leyva a few hours north of Bogota. People have been telling us since we got here that it was one of the places we had to visit during our short post in Colombia. 

With good reason.

Villa de Leyva (full name Nuestra Senora de la Villa Santa Maria de Leyva - rolls off the tongue doesn't it?) is a small town with a population of about 9000 people and is a place where time seems to stand still. The streets are still cobbled*, the walls still whitewashed, and the architecture is pure colonial. It was declared a National Monument in 1954 in order to preserve its unique architecture.

day 1-4
the plaza and fountain at night

The town centres around the main square -Plaza Mayor- which is supposedly the largest in South America at 120m by 120m. It's completely cobbled and almost completely devoid of any decoration except the fountain in the centre. I don't know if it was this lack of ornamentation that would otherwise help with perspective, but it didn't seem that big! Although I've only been to Plaza Simon Bolivar here in Bogota once (during a tour of the Christmas lights when it was PACKED with throngs of people), surely this plaza in tiny Villa de Leyva can't be bigger... but can Wikipedia and Lonely Planet be wrong??

day 1-5
the church with steps built in 1604

Either way, it was definitely an interesting place to visit... either at night in the rain for a much-later-than-usual supper (with three cranky, starving boys) or during the late morning for a much-needed latte and lemonades while we waited for the shops to open. It's surrounded by restaurants, cafes, bars, shops carrying artisanal goods, some small hotels and the plain-yet-impressive Iglesia Parroquial and is the main thoroughfare for much of Villa de Leyva's foot traffic. So great people watching!

day 1-3
Simon trying very hard not to move (since I didn't want to use the flash)

day 1-2

day 1-1

I already posted a ton of pictures of our rainy afternoon activity (ie, every afternoon in Colombia is rainy), but didn't post any other pics of our hotel. It was a hotel/convention centre located a bit outside of town. Not far, but it was down a pretty treacherous road. With all the rain, we nearly got stuck each time we drove to or from the hotel!

But it was pretty.

day 2-104
the courtyard down the hall from our room

day 2-103
my lame attempt at architectural photography... needs work

Near the building housing the indoor pool, there was a playground, a small wooded area (with a shrine to Virgin Mary, of course), a small and unfortunately water-logged soccer pitch (of course), and a field...

...with these two guys.

Or gals.

day 2-111

The boys enjoyed a wee tramp through the trees after breakfast and before the start of our adventure-filled day,

day 2-110

day 2-108

Until I made them stop to pose for a family picture. I'm such an evil dictator, trying to preserve memories and all.

day 2-106

Which, like almost all our family pictures, ended like this...

day 2-105

Poor Andrew looks like he's not sure a) what's happening, and b) how he got thrown in with this group! Get used to it, baby.

This day ended up being SO full and SO packed that I'll leave the rest for another day. Hopefully it was one of those days that they boys will always remember. Full of new sights and great experiences and fun  and family and memories.

Stay tuned...


  1. This post stirs my travel bug completely. Also, I had to pop over from my reader just to tell you how amazing you look; your family is just adorable!

  2. Love the family photos! So much fun!

  3. Love it. So beautiful and that goofy family photo is priceless :)

  4. Glad you got to visit this place and looks like it was very fun! Love the family pictures and especially the 'silly' one!!!! Hugs, A. Dianne

  5. The area looks so beautiful! And it looks like you guys were having a blast. Love the family pictures, especially the second one.


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