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Armenia feels more like a big town than a departmental capital, and is far more slow-paced than its coffee-country rivals Manizales and Pereira. Originally named Villa Holguín when founded in 1889, Armenia was renamed in the early 20th century in solidarity with the Armenian victims of genocide perpetuated by the Ottoman Empire. Devastated by an earthquake in 1999 that flattened much of the city center, Armenia has never fully recovered. The center of the city is makeshift – check out the hastily reconstructed cathedral, made of prefab concrete slabs – and the de facto center has moved north of downtown, along Av Bolívar.

Most travelers will pass through Armenia only long enough to change buses; however, the city has the fine Museo del Oro Quimbaya and excellent Parque de la Vida, which make it interesting enough for a day or so.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Armenia.