Convento del Santo Ecce Homo


Founded by the Dominican fathers in 1620, this convent is a large stone-and-adobe construction with a huge, faintly regal courtyard. The floors are paved with stones quarried in the region, so they contain ammonites and fossils, including petrified corn and flowers. There are also fossils in the base of a statue in the chapel.

The chapel is endowed with a magnificent gilded main retable with a small image of Ecce Homo. The original wooden ceiling is full of fascinating details: note the images of pineapples, eagles, suns and moons (used to help convert indigenous peoples); the skull and crossbones with a Bolivian-style winter cap in the sacristy; and the crucifix in the Capitulary Hall showing Christ alive (his eyes are open), a rarity in South America. Look out for the drawing of Christ in the west cloister – from different angles it appears that the eyes open and close.

The convent is 13km from Villa de Leyva. Any bus to Santa Sofía will drop you off at the access road, from where it's a 15-minute walk to the convent. Alternatively, it makes for a beautiful bike ride along quiet country lanes.

The convent has a small cafe and shop.

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