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La Inmaculada Temple in the central plaza of Barichara / Photo by Flickr user nagok86.
A road winds its way through a desert landscape of compact red and yellow earth until it gets to a village where the houses, streets, churches, artwork and cemetery are all made of stone. This village is Barichara, a place where it is possible to travel back in time to the colonial era, when buildings were built of bahareque (compresses mud) and walls were whitewashed.
Barichara was declared a National Monument in 1978 because of its architectural heritage dating back to the Spanish conquest. Barichara mesmerizes both tourists and residents with its beauty. With good reason, Barichara is considered the prettiest village in Colombia. This is thanks to the craftsmen and their skillful hands, who labored, stone by stone, to build these charming houses and churches.
Barichara is considered to be the prettiest village in Colombia.
The town is set on top of a vast arid plateau. The climate is mild and the night skies clear. Barichara is 118 km from Bucaramanga in the department of Santander and 445 km from Bogotá, the capital of Colombia.
One of the first things you notice on arriving in Barichara is the calm, slow pace of life. Residents wander the streets greeting whoever they find in their path. No one is in a hurry. Part of the trip includes walking, block by block, to look for accommodation. You can choose from boutique hotels or lodges, or even houses for rent.
Sunset from the Barichara lookout / Photo by Flickr user nagok86.
Strolling through the village, you will come across various shops selling handicrafts, such as hammocks, rope sandals, clothing, necklaces and jewelry of ivory palm, figurines carved of stone, bags and mochilas, rugs made from sisal hemp, and much more.
While exploring every nook and cranny, you will find a breath-taking lookout point from which to gaze over the valley of the Suárez River. In the middle of the arid and yellow valley dotted with green, the raging river disappears into the horizon. During the day, the sky is a clear blue, turning red, orange and pink as the sun sets.
Barichara means "place of rest" in the indigenous Chibcha language.
Near the lookout is a beautiful, old cemetery and the Chapel of Jesús. These buildings and others, such as the Church of the Inmaculada Concepción in the main plaza, the Santa Bárbara Chapel in the north of the town and the San Antonio Chapel to the south, are all built of yellow stone from local quarries.
During the evenings, find a cafe in the main plaza to relax, and refresh yourself after the heat of the afternoon with a cold beer. The village does indeed stay loyal to its Chibcha name, "place of rest".
The Juan Curi waterfalls are ideal for waterfall rappelling / Photoby Flickr user la marialegria.
Santander is first and foremost, an adventure sports destination full of excitement. Barichara is an oasis of tranquility, surrounded by adventure. Nearby, on the road to San Gil, is La Antigua cave, perfect for caving, admiring mineral formations, getting covered in mud and swimming in its natural pool.
In the area near Socorro, you can go trekking and waterfall rappelling in the
Juan Curí medicinal waterfalls, which are over 200 meters high with a pool five meters deep. For a more extreme experience try rafting 10 km down the Fonce River, with a series of class III, III plus and IV rapids.
Go paragliding... It's only a matter of jumping!
For those of you who like heights, have a go at paragliding in Curí, some 10 minutes from San Gil. It is an exhilarating experience where you will spend 15 to 20 minutes airborne, with thrilling views. It's only a matter of jumping into thin air!
The Guane were the indigenous people who occupied this region.
Close to Barichara you can visit Guane, a small village accessed by a historic path. The population maintains the colonial architecture and offers a paleontology museum with a collection of fossils, including dinosaur bones.
Only 9 km away you will find yourself immersed in a dramatic desert landscape. It is also worth visiting the Santa Lucía Church, one of the lovely colonial buildings in the village. Guane is known for its fabrics made from sisal hemp and paper, which are turned into rugs and baskets.
Barichara Cemetery/ Photo by Flickr user nagok86.