Founded in 1537 by the conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar, the “White City” of Popayan is an attractive university town and world heritage site bedecked with historic churches and elegant plazas.
In its heyday, the city’s glorious architecture rivalled that of Cartagena and was home to presidents, artists, painters and poets alike. Sadly, many of the colonial attractions have been destroyed by earthquakes over the years yet it retains its sleepy, old-world charm. Each Easter, Popayan comes alive for the colourful Semana Santa processions as the cobbled streets fill with revellers, a celebration famous Colombia-wide. South of the city, the Purace National Park offers a natural wonderland of volcanoes, hotsprings and waterfalls, a perfect city escape. Further afield, roads lead off to the enigmatic site of San Agustin, one of South America’s archaeological treasures nestled deep in the foothills of the Andes.
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