About Villa de Leyva
The town of Villa de Leyva, located 207km northeast from Bogotá at 2,140masl, was founded in 1572 as Villa de Santa Maria de Leyva. Before the Spanish, the area was inhabited by the Muiscas, a Chibcha-family indigenous tribe who built their main astronomical observatory made of phallic stones near the town.
Villa de Leyva is considered one of Colombia’s finest colonial villages. It was declared a national monument in 1954. The stone-paved ‘Plaza Mayor’ – Main Square - with 14,000m2 is the country’s largest. In the square, and its surrounding streets, all of which are made of stone, there are many stores selling handcrafted art pieces.
A few kilometers from Villa de Leyva is the Convent of Santo Ecce Homo, founded by the Dominicans in 1620 and considered an outstanding Spanish legacy. The pavement is made of local stone embedded with fossils, and the chapel has a magnificent golden altarpiece with a small Ecce Homo image.
The ‘El Fosil’ – Fossil museum exhibits a 120-million kronosaurus fossil and fossils from the Mesozoic and Cretaceous abound.
Nearby Villa de Leyva there are many towns, each with its particular curiosity, such as Ràquira which in Chibcha language means “city of the pots” thus is known as the Colombian town that specializes in fine hand-made ceramics; Sutamarchàn, famous for its gastronomy, especially longaniza and morcilla spicy sausages and the Tomatina Festival, which comes from a Spanish tradition.