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Villa de Leyva/Colombia

Introducing Villa de Leyva

Villa de Leyva is where time stands still. Declared a national monument in 1954, the town has been preserved in its entirety and virtually no modern architecture exists. The result is a colonial town par excellence - a place where the streets are still cobbled and the walls still whitewashed. It's easy to see the place in just a day, but many travelers find themselves caught in its magical grasp and hang on for several more.

The town was founded in 1572 by Hernán Suárez de Villalobos and named Nuestra Señora de la Villa Santa María de Leyva. It enjoys a healthy, mild climate, warmer than Tunja, just 39km away but 700m higher.

Villa de Leyva's proximity to Bogotá has made it a popular weekend destination for tourists, a trend that has created a miniboom in hotels, craft shops and tourist-oriented restaurants. You can beat the rush and get a better deal on a hotel if you come early in the week. For more details, check out www.villadeleyva.net (in Spanish).