Looking down on the colonial centre, beyond the end of Simón Bolívar, in a more run down part of town, a dirt track leads steeply up to a dilapidated church, the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de la Popa del Barco, marking the last line of buildings before the town dissolves into the countryside. Known locally as La Popa, there’s nothing to see of the church itself but a ruined framework, but it’s worth making the easy fifteen-minute walk up the hill to the rear of the church, the Loma de la Vigía, for the views at the top. At the summit the lush landscape of the Valle de los Ingenios (on the other side of the hill is revealed, as well as views back across the town and down to the coast. Just beyond the ruined church you can easily cut across to the Las Cuevas hotel complex, on the adjoining hillside, where non-guests can use the hillside swimming pool and other facilities.
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