Founded in 1849 by migrating paisas, MANIZALES developed in the late nineteenth century with the growth of the coffee industry. One legacy is the numerous Neoclassical buildings in the city centre, which has been declared a national monument. This high-mountain city (altitude 2150m) sits at the base of the snowcapped Nevado del Ruiz volcano, which, on a clear day you can sometimes see burping vapour from the bridge in front of the Teatro Los Fundadores. Manizales owes its hilly topography to the geologically volatile earth beneath it, and earthquakes occur with some frequency.
Much of the town’s charm lies in its large student population, who help create a festive atmosphere, with night-time entertainment centred mostly on Cable Plaza. The party comes to a head in the first weeks of January during the Fería de Manizales, when there are colourful parades, a beauty pageant in search of a new Coffee Queen and bloody bullfights staged in the Plaza de Toros (C 8 and Cra 27). Manizales also makes an excellent base for exploring the surrounding coffee farms and the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados.