Barichara is the kind of town that Hollywood filmmakers dream about. A Spanish colonial town of striking beauty, it boasts cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings with red-tiled roofs that look almost as new as the day they were created some 300 years ago. It's no wonder that many Spanish-language films and telenovelas are shot here. Granted, the movie-set appearance owes a debt to considerable reconstruction efforts made since the town was declared a national monument in 1978.
Barichara is located 20km northwest of San Gil high above the Río Suárez. According to legend, in 1702 a farmer discovered an apparition of the Virgin Mary on a rock in his field. The locals built a small chapel here to commemorate this miracle. Three years later Spanish Captain Francisco Pradilla y Ayerbe founded the town of Villa de San Lorenzo de Barichara, after the Guane word barachalá, meaning 'place of relaxation.'
The town's natural beauty, temperate climate and bohemian lifestyle have long attracted visitors. In recent years Barichara has become a magnet for affluent Colombians. Compared to Villa de Leyva, Barichara is more upscale but less touristy. Many boutique hotels, spas and gourmet restaurants have opened here in recent years, but the town retains its traditional atmosphere. It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful small colonial towns in Colombia. Don't miss it.