With its undulating stone-slab roads, clay-tiled tejas roofs draped in bougainvillea blossoms and single-storey adobe homes, the sedate colonial town of BARICHARA looks like it hasn’t changed much in its 250 years. So well kept is the town that it was declared a national monument in 1978 and, with its historical buildings restored, it now makes a popular set for Spanish-language films. Barichara is considerably less crowded than similarly picturesque Villa de Leyva, making it a peaceful, if expensive, resting spot for travellers. Indeed, the town’s name comes from an Indian word, Barachala, meaning “a good place to rest”. Alternatively, it makes for a great day-trip from San Gil.
Barichara’s quiet streets, lined with beautiful architecture, combined with a tranquil vibe, are its biggest attraction. Once you’ve checked out the striking Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción which stands on fluted sandstone columns on the Parque Principal, the leafy main square, take a look at the elaborate marble tombs at the Capilla de Jesús Resucitado cemetery. Surrounding an attractive patio at Casa de la Cultura is a collection of regional photos, Guane pottery, fossils and various early twentieth-century paraphernalia.
Very popular with hikers is the 9km Camino Real, an ancient stone-paved trail used by the indigenous Guane people, leading down through a cactus-filled valley with great mountain views to the tiny village of Guane.To join the path, head uphill along C 5 from the cathedral before taking a left along Cra 10 to the edge of Barichara. From Guane, there are five buses daily back to Barichara, the last leaving at 6pm; bring plenty of water and wear sturdy footwear.