Just 56km south of Manizales, PEREIRA makes an equally suitable base for exploring the Zona Cafetera. The region’s largest city, it shares Manizales’ history as a centre for the coffee industry. Its historic centre has been repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes, the most recent striking in 1999. However, it’s closer to many of the region’s coffee fincas and thermal springs.
Pereira’s Plaza de Bolívar is unique among the uniformly named central plazas of Colombia for its modern sculpture of Bolívar Desnudo – the El Libertadór nude on horseback, a controversial pose when it was unveiled in 1963 but now a beloved city symbol. Also on the plaza is the town’s magnificent Catedral, built in 1875. Nondescript from the outside, the Catedral’s single-nave interior is supported by an elaborate latticework of twelve thousand wooden beams forming a canopy like a spider’s web.