Christian Heritage of Colombia
Overview / Highlights9 NIGHTS / 10 DAYS
Colombia is a devout country with religious architecture that reflects its history and diversity. Its churches and cathedrals are some of its most impressive monuments, each with its own unique story, a testament to key moments in the country's history. Some say that Colombia does not have an official religion. However, Roman Catholicism is the dominant faith and deeply culturally pervasive. The Spanish, and the Roman Catholic religion, arrived in Colombia in 1499 and initiated a period of conquest and colonization, ultimately creating the Viceroyalty of New Granada, with its capital at Bogotá. Independence from Spain was won in 1819, but by 1830 "Gran Colombia" had collapsed with the secession of Venezuela and Ecuador. What is now Colombia and Panama emerged as the Republic of New Granada. The new nation experimented with federalism as the Granadine Confederation (1858), and then the United States of Colombia (1863), before the Republic of Colombia was finally declared in 1886 and Panama seceded in 1903. Come join us on this fascinating journey where we explore beautiful Colombia, the colonial and modern sides. We will show you Colombian art, culture, and history, all while savoring the stunning green of the savannas and the outstanding mountains.
CitiesBogota, Villa de Leyva, Cali, Popayán, Ipiales
Tour Program Summery Outline
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Adventure / Beaches / COSMOPOLITAN CITIES / CULINARY /Cruises / Cultural / ECO TOURS / FAMILY ADVENTURES / FLORA / Historical / LUXURY / Nightlife
Day 1: Arrive Bogota (Sanctuary of the Divine Child Jesus)Welcome to Bogota, Colombia's capital city with approximately 8 million people. This is educational, cultural, commercial, administrative, financial, and political center of Colombia. As with many large, cosmopolitan cities, it is a city of diverse contrasts, both economically and culturally. Often referred to as the "Athens of South America" for its cultural and scientific institutions, Bogota is a flavorful mix of its Spanish, English and the indigenous peoples' heritages. One of the largest cities in Latin America, Bogota boasts well-preserved historic heritage. Pressed against the dramatic Eastern Andes peaks, Colombia's sprawling, high-altitude, Bogota offers an interesting mix of old and new. The city's eclectic blend offers culinary riches-its several dining districts play host to world-class restaurants representing all the world's cuisines; traditional and modern, frequented by the local jet set crowd. Rich nightlife that lasts well into the night at sweaty salsa clubs. Bogota has something for everyone.
Meeting services upon arrival and transfer to the hotel.
After check-in and time to refresh form the flights, we transfer to the south of the city to 20 de Julio neighborhood in Bogotá where the Divine Child Church is located, and our pilgrimage begins. The image of the Divino Niño Jesus is venerated in a small chapel-corridor located behind the main altar and millions of parishioners come to worship the miraculous image. It's estimated that every Sunday at least 250,000 devotees attend the 28 masses that are celebrated in the new basilica and plaza. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Overnight at the selected Bogota hotel. (D)
Day 2: Bogota (City, the main Churches, Monserrate Hill & Gold Museum)The tour begins with a transfer to the famous and well preserved historical colonial neighborhood of La Candelaria. Steeped in history, this area is a must for photographers with its splendid colonial architecture; you will want to take the opportunity to capture the sights and sounds of this fascinating part of Bogotá. Walk through the streets permeating with the heady atmosphere of the past, as revealed by the library of Luis Angel Arango and down to the prominent Plaza de Bolivar, the heart of Bogotá, where locals and visitors mingle amongst the magnificent and foreboding structures. You will want to discover the history of this old part of the city by visiting, the Congress Palace, the Independence House, the Palace of Justice and the City Hall which are all located in this impressive square. You will have the opportunity to visit the main churches of the historic center of Bogotá: The Cathedral, San Francísco de Asís, Santa Clara museum, the Cardinal's Palace, the colonial churches of El Sagrario and San Agustin. Continuing to the east, on top of the forested mountains, you will find "Cerro de Monserrate". This mountain has a white catholic church located at the top and has been a site of worship since 1657. On a clear day you will have the opportunity to enjoy a spectacular view of the city. You also might see snowcap of "Nevado del Tolima" on the far west side.
The tour then follows with a visit to the "Museo del Oro", the most important gold museum in the world and a 'must see' when traveling to Bogotá. This museum displays one of the largest collections of pre-Columbian gold. Galleries on three levels display exquisitely crafted pieces dating back nearly 2.500 years. Visit the vault-like room on the top floor where the most treasured pieces are displayed, as well as the Offering Room, where passengers enter a black circular area that is gradually illuminated with indigenous music playing in the background; the light begins to dawn, and finally a remarkable display of gold offering collection is discovered.
The tour ends with a visit to the "Museo de Botero", housed in a renovated colonial mansion. The works on display are all donated by Fernando Botero, Colombia's most famous contemporary artist. Around 120 pieces of his own work are displayed at the museum including his famous sculptures, paintings and drawings. His work is well-known for the 'proportionally exaggerated' fat figures. In addition to his work, his personal collection by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí, Degas, Chagall, Matisse, Monet and Giacometti are also exhibited.
NOTES: It is important to remember, when visiting churches, monasteries, and shrines, women should not wear shorts or miniskirts and men should not wear shorts. Transfer to your hotel.
Overnight at the selected Bogota hotel. (snacks during tour)
Day 3: Bogota - Villa de Leyva (Zipaquira's Underground Salt Cathedral)This morning we drive northeast heading to the beautiful town of Villa de Leyva.
This town has several rural landscapes from a wilderness area region with its unique lakes and water reservoirs to the semi-arid deserts. Villa de Leyva is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Colombia. This picturesque historical town is set high in the Andes considered one of the country's top attractions and is home to some of its best-preserved colonial architecture.
First stop is the small town of Zipaquirá where visit the underground Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, a Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 656 feet (200 meters) underground in a halite mountain near the town of Zipaquirá, Here we experience the extraordinary architecture and engineer of this remarkable underground mine. This cathedral was carved inside an active salt mine formed 250 million years ago, under the Halite Mountains. Here you will find 14 small chapels that represent the Stations of the Cross and Jesus Christ's crucifixion, a sanctuary and a main cathedral. Although this is a popular tourist destination to be visited, this is also a place of pilgrimage for the local community. We continue to visit the town of Zipaquirá which was founded on 1600 and still conserves its colonial heritage. Stop at the main square, where you will find whitewashed houses decorated with olive-green trim and base as well as the most important municipal buildings.
Time to celebrate the Eucharist in the Catedral Diocesana of Zipaquirá.
The tour then continues with a visit to the colonial town of Ráquira, probably the most colorful town in Colombia with vivid colored facades and attractive buildings. This hidden gem, Ráquira, only 15 miles away from Villa de Leyva, is a brightly colonial town which name literally means "City of Pots" in the native Chibcha language spoken by the ancient Muisca tribe. The town specializes in fine hand-made ceramics and throughout the streets you will find different craft shops and artisans selling their artwork and pottery. In the colorful shops, usually located at the main square, you will find everything from ceramic bowls, vases, pitchers, children's toys, piggy banks, dwarfs and even Christmas decorations hanging in the storefronts. During this visit, you will have the opportunity to pass by a workshop and observe the process of how traditional pottery is made.
Now we head to Villa de Leyva, a Colombian town northeast of Bogotá, famous for its whitewashed colonial buildings, cobbled lanes and vast Plaza Mayor. On that square are the early 17th-century Our Lady of the Rosary church and the House of the First Congress of the United Provinces, where new laws were drafted after independence in 1812. Southwest of the plaza is the Antonio Nariño House Museum, where this war hero died.
The evening is dedicated to a walking tour through the colonial town; you will learn more about the culture of the people and its interesting architecture as you pass through the different cobbled streets and the vast main square plaza. The quiet atmosphere together with the solitude of its streets and the easy-going life of its inhabitants, make you feel that you are in an era where it seems like time has not passed.
NOTE: Not recommended for people who might be claustrophobic.
Overnight at selected hotel in Villa de Leyva (B,L)
Day 4: Villa de Leyva - Chiquinquira - Bogotá / CaliThis morning we travel to the convent "Santo Ecce Homo", founded by Dominicans in 1620. This convent is a large stone-and-adobe construction with a lovely courtyard. The floors are paved with stones extracted from the region, so they contain ammonites and other kinds of fossils. We resume our tour with a stop at Chiquinquira, it is a major point of religious pilgrimage and it is home to the Basílica de Chiquinquirá, which houses the image of the Virgen de Chiquinquirá, the patroness saint of Colombia. Here you will have time to visit Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá Cathedral and Cathedral of Sanctuary of Santa Barbara. After this stop, we make our way to Bogotá for taking your flight to Cali.
Cali, while not as scenic as Medellín or cosmopolitan as Bogotá, it is the vibrant attitude of the local caleños is enough to win you over. Moreover, as a society built upon the blending of indigenous, African and Spanish traditions, diversity and open-mindedness form the base of the caleño culture.
Cali is a city with a passion for life that draws you in and stays with you even after you leave town. The city combines natural beauty with stunning architecture, balmy weather, cultural richness, amazingly kind people and salsa dancing. Everyone in this town moves to one beat: the beat of salsa. Music here is much more than entertainment; it is a way of life. We cannot describe Cali
Overnight at selected Cali Hotel (B)
Day 5: Cali (Our Lord of the Miracles of Buga)The tour begins with a visit to the city's main attraction, the Basilica of the Lord of the Miracles. Our Lord of the Miracles of Buga, also known as the Lord of the Miracles, is a famous statue of Jesus Christ in the form of a crucifix, remarkable for having come into existence miraculously and spontaneously and without the work of human hands. This type of miraculous icon is known as Acheiropoieta ("made without hand") , Christina Icons which are said to have come into existence miraculously, not created by a human. The Lord of Miracles appeared in the 16th century in what is now Buga, Colombia. It is believed that it is not the work of human hands but of divine origin. It has been housed since the 18th century in the Basilica of Our Lord of the Miracles. The church opened in 1907 and it is one of the most visited places of worship in Colombia. You will have time to visit the church, attend mass, confess yourself or visit the church's museum. Next, we can visit the local market where you will find religious items like crosses, paintings, figurines and rosary beads, among others. At the end of the day, you will enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour through Buga. Return to your hotel in Cali.
Overnight at selected Cali Hotel (B)
Day 6: Cali (City Tour & main Churches)The tour begins with a visit downtown where you will find the Plaza de Caicedo, the main square of Cali and the civic centre of the city. The plaza was named after the 18th century hero Joaquin de Caicedo y Cuero and his statue remains in the middle of the plaza surrounded by tall palm trees.
Next, you will visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, an impressive neoclassic church with white façade and exquisite stained-glass windows. Although the original construction began in 1772, the cathedral was not completed until 1841 and was extensively restored in 1930 due to a series of earthquakes.
Continue with a visit to the church of San Francisco, an 18th century neoclassic church with a red brick façade. The San Francisco church is the best example of the Mudejar architecture and influence in Colombia. Afterwards you will visit the "Iglesia de la Merced", Cali's oldest church built in the early 16th century. Typical of early colonial architecture, the church building is whitewashed, featuring wood and stucco construction, and has a long, narrow nave. On top of the church's gilded baroque altar sits a statue of the "Virgen de las Mercedes", the patron saint of Cali.
The tour continues with a visit to San Antonio, the most traditional neighborhood of the city. Feel amazed by this bohemian quarter with its quiet streets lined with picturesque colonial houses, small and independent theatres, arty cafés, eclectic bars and artist's workshops. You will also have the opportunity to visit the best lookouts of Cali. The "Mirador de Sebastián de Belalcázar" and the Cristo Rey Monument, offers you the best views of the city and the valley. Next, you will visit the San Fernando Sports Complex and the Cañaveralejo's Bullring. The tour will finish with a visit to the 6th Avenue and the Granada's neighborhood, a unique and distinguished area that offers nice restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs and boutiques.
Overnight at selected Cali Hotel (B)
Day 7: Cali - Popayán (transfer & Historic Walking Tour of Popayán)We make our way by ground transfer (3-hours) to Popayán is a city in western Colombia, southwest of Bogotá. It's known for its whitewashed colonial buildings and as a religious center with popular Holy Week processions. The city's many churches include the domed, neoclassical Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption and the 17th-century Church of La Ermita. In the city's heart, tree-shaded Caldas Park is home to a 17th-century clock tower.
NOTE: Our transfer fee includes transportation of one bag per person of up to 23kg (50 lbs.) plus one carryon. If you plan to travel with additional luggage please let us know in advance in order to assign a different vehicle capacity for the transfer. Please keep in mind that additional costs may be charge Arrival to Popayán and lunch in a local restaurant with a set menu.
Welcome to Popayán, a small colonial city famous for its chalk-white facades (its nickname is La Ciudad Blanca, or 'the White City'). Popayán is second only to Cartagena as Colombia's most impressive colonial settlement. Perched beneath towering mountains in the Valle de Pubenza, it was the capital of southern Colombia for centuries, before Cali overtook it. Founded in 1537 by Sebastián de Belalcázar, Popayán became an important stopping point on the road between Cartagena and Quito (Ecuador). Its mild climate attracted wealthy families from the sugar haciendas of the hot Valle de Cauca region. In the 17th century they began building mansions, schools, churches and monasteries. In March 1983, moments before the much-celebrated Maundy Thursday religious procession was set to depart, a violent earthquake shook the town, caving in the cathedral's roof and killing hundreds. Popayán is now home to numerous universities, and the streets of its old center are filled with students in the daytime.
After checking in to the hotel we begin our walking tour of Popayán's historic City Centre. Your tour will take in all the major sights of the old city including beautiful churches such as Iglesia San Francisco and Iglesia La Ermita. It will also include a visit to Casa Mosquera, an old colonial mansion where Colombia's liberator Simón Bolívar stayed when in Popayán (time to celebrate the Eucharist in the Church San Francisco or San José).
Overnight at selected hotel in Popayan (B)
Day 8: Popayán - IpialesToday we transfer (7-hours) to Ipiales, a small Andean city in western Colombia, near the border with Ecuador. Ipiales is located on the high plateau called "Tuquerres e Ipiales," the city lies at a distance of 82 km from Pasto, the department's capital." Ipiales is known as "la ciudad de las nubes verdes" (the city of the green clouds) because sometimes, especially in the afternoon, greenish clouds appear over the city. Famous for its proximity to Las Lajas Sanctuary, a Catholic pilgrimage site. This towering Gothic-style church and its arched bridge span the Guáitara River in a steep-sided gorge southeast of town. Built in the 20th century, they mark the spot where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a mother and her daughter in 1754.
Overnight at selected hotel in Ipiales. (B)
Day 9: Ipiales (Visit to Las Lajas Cathedral)The Las Lajas Sanctuary, a Gothic church commonly referred to as "a miracle of God in the abyss," is a jewel of engineering built in the Guáitara river canyon near Ipiales. Legend has it that María Mueses, a native woman, and her daughter Rosa saw the image of the Virgin here in 1754. This church is visited by pilgrims from all over the world, especially on Sundays. The Las Lajas Sanctuary was declared the second wonder of Colombia in 2007. At the conclusion of our visit we transfer back to the hotel in Ipiales.
Overnight at selected hotel in Ipiales. (B)
Day 10: Ipiales - Pasto Airport / DepartureToday we transfer to Antonio Nariño airport for departure back home. (B)
- Alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages
- International or domestic airfares
- Cost of Medical Emergencies including evacuation
- Souvenirs or additional services
- Travel insurance
- Cost of relevant visas
- Anything else not listed as included