Inner courtyard of La Candelaria Monastery near the town of Raquira in Boyaca, Colombia.

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Monasterio de La Candelaria


Set amid arid hills, 7km beyond Ráquira, the Monasterio de La Candelaria was founded in 1597 by Augustine monks and completed about 1660. A guide will show you around: through the chapel (note the 16th-century painting of the Virgen de la Candelaria), a small museum, a stunning courtyard with a collection of 17th-century canvases, and the cave where the monks originally lived. If you want to be led by the monks themselves you'll need to visit on Sunday.

Some of the artworks were allegedly painted by Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos and the Figueroa brothers. Check out the ancient orange tree in the first courtyard, which was grown with seeds brought by pilgrims from the holy land in the 19th century.

It's possible to walk for about an hour from Ráquira to the monastery, but note that it can get very hot here and there's little shade. The path begins in Ráquira's main plaza, winds up the hill to a small shrine at the top and then drops down and joins the road to La Candelaria.

A taxi from Ráquira costs COP$10,000.

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