Spectacularly set in the deep Valle del Espíritu Santo in the Cordillera Oriental, colonial-era Pamplona is a delightful town of old churches, narrow streets and bustling commerce. If you've just come up from the hot plains of Venezuela, it makes for a nice stopover en route to central Colombia.
Pamplona was founded by Pedro de Orsúa and Ortún Velasco in 1549, making it the oldest town in the region. Soon after its foundation five convents were established and the town swiftly developed into an important religious and political center. A construction boom saw the rise of churches and noble mansions.
Unfortunately, an earthquake occuring in 1875 wiped out a good part of the town. The most representative buildings were restored or reconstructed in their original style, but most of the houses were replaced by new ones. Since then the construction of modern buildings has affected the colonial character of the town even further.
Pamplona was a schooling and catechistic center from its early days, and the trad-itions have not been lost. Today the town is home to the Universidad de Pamplona, and the large student population is very much in evidence. Pamplona has a distinctly cultured air, and boasts more museums than Cúcuta and Bucaramanga combined.