Exploring Colonial Towns Barichara and Guane

In 1975, declared “The prettiest village in Colombia.”
Altitude: 1,237m (4,058ft)
Population: 4,149
Average Temperature: Around 23ºC (73°F)

In the local dialect, Barichara means “Place of Rest” and it is certainly that with sleepy colonial streets and shady central park. It’s a town that got stuck in time, a national monument.

We drove in through a brick archway and up sloping streets lined with uniform houses.

Walls are made of compressed horse waste, earth and other materials, the outsides whitewashed with colourful green or blue painted shutters and doors, characteristic red roofs, curved for water drainage. Near the ground, a layer of red dust from the roads coats the paint.

The sun was hot mid-day when we arrived after a 40 minute drive from San Gil. We headed for the trees of the central park. This town is famous for its stone carvers with a few pieces dotted around in the park.

We stretched our legs walking up the steep cobbled streets to an old church.

Then on to the pretty flower-covered Parque para Las Artes. There are 22 stone sculptures carved by people around the world, a stream of water running through. The view of the mountains and green valley from here is breath-taking.

Walking further on, we stopped for a drink and I found one graffiti covered wall among the perfection all around us.

We stopped in the cluttered eclectic cemetery next to the the Chapel of Jesús so I could snap a few photos. Most of the stones were carved. Besides religious figures, I found instruments, hats and hands.

The it was on to the small nearby town of Guane. If you have a few hours to spare there’s a camino real – a 9km hike you can walk connecting the two towns which takes you past the Chicamocha Canyon.

We didn’t have that much time or energy so we drove 15 minutes.


Known for the patron saint Santa Lucia, Queen of the Blind
Altitude: 831 (2726ft)
Population: 1,500
Average Temperature: 23ºC (73°F)

Guane is tiny. You can practically see the entire town while standing in the central park.

Wilfredo’s ancestors were Guane Indians who lives in the area of Santander. These were the people who first started cultivating the “big ass ants” to eat for their healing and aphrodisiac qualities. (Yes, I have tried them).

Guane has a small museum with three rooms. It’s locked until you pay the nice lady at the front to let you in and guide you around. She led us through the first room full of fossilized rocks. The last room had religious art.

The middle room was the most interesting with the bones of a tiny little woman curled up in her last moments before death. She is thought to be a Guane princess. The room had a cabinet of skulls from the Guane people – they shaped their heads in different ways using pressure from cloths and other materials, so their skulls are deformed from what we would expect today. There was also an ancient record player, coins from all over the world, a loom for weaving (the Guane people were big on textiles), old hunting gear and a machine for separating fique plant fibers used for weaving.

I wasn’t allowed to take photos though. Sorry!

One other stop in Guane was to the church dedicated to Santa Lucia, Queen of the Blind.

And I found a horse in the park with a colourful band around its head.

We headed back to Barichara in time to visit the shops of a few artisans. On our way back toward San Gil, we stopped at different places selling fossilized rocks and garden accessories.

Hungry, we made a final stop in San Gil before the hour drive back to Mogotes. Chicken, arepa and potatoes were on the menu at a restaurant that doesn’t believe in silverware. A basket was plopped on our table with one plastic glove each for some tasty finger food. Saves on washing up, I guess!

About Little Observationist

Appreciating life's little luxuries.
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3 Responses to Exploring Colonial Towns Barichara and Guane

  1. Jasmine says:

    Gorgeous photos! I’ve been to a ton of pueblos in Colombia, but still haven’t made it to Barichara yet. I’ve got to get out there soon.

  2. kelsi says:

    Love all the photos (especially, the first one – gorgeous!). I didn’t know that Barichara meant “Place of Rest.” What a perfect word for such a quiet, serene town.

  3. toemailer says:

    Lots of great shots there, thanks!

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