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Introducing Villa de Leyva

One of the most beautiful colonial villages in Colombia, Villa de Leyva is a city frozen in time. Declared a national monument in 1954, the photogenic village has been preserved in its entirety with cobblestone roads and whitewashed buildings.

The city's physical beauty and mild, dry climate have long attracted outsiders. The town was founded in 1572 by Hernán Suárez de Villalobos, who named it for his boss, Andrés Díaz Venero de Leyva, the first president of the New Kingdom of Granada. It was originally a retreat for military officers, clergy and nobility.

In recent years an influx of wealthy visitors and expats has slowly transformed this once-hidden gem. Boutique hotels, gourmet restaurants and tacky tourist shops are replacing many of the old family hosterías and cafes. The 2007 telenovela (soap opera) Zorro: La Espada y la Rosa was filmed here, bringing further publicity to the city. On weekends the narrow alleys can get downright crammed with day-trippers from Bogotá. But thankfully on weekdays the city reverts to a peaceful, bucolic village, one of the loveliest places in Colombia, filled with history, museums, festivals and sightseeing opportunities. Don't miss it.