Welcome to Popayán
Founded in 1537 by Sebastián de Belalcázar, Popayán became an important stopping point on the road between Cartagena and Quito. Its mild climate attracted wealthy families from the sugar haciendas of the hot Valle de Cauca region. In the 17th century they began building mansions, schools, churches and monasteries. In March 1983, moments before the much-celebrated Maundy Thursday religious procession was set to depart, a violent earthquake shook the town, caving in the cathedral's roof and killing hundreds.
Popayán is now home to numerous universities, and the streets of its old center are filled with students in the daytime.