Often ballyhooed by Colombians and overlooked by travelers rushing on to Villa de Leyva, Tunja, the capital of Boyacá and a bustling student center, can't compete with Boyacá's big guns, but it does offer an imposing central square, Plaza de Bolívar, elegant mansions adorned with some of South America's most unique artwork and a plethora of standout colonial-era churches.
Tunja was founded by Gonzalo Suárez Rendón in 1539 on the site of Hunza, the pre-Hispanic Muisca settlement. Almost nothing is left of the indigenous legacy, but much colonial architecture remains. Tunja is particularly noted for its colonial churches; several imposing examples dating from the 16th century stand almost untouched by time.
Tunja is the highest and coldest departmental capital in Colombia. Its mountain climate can be windy or wet any time of year.