|Municipality and town|
|Founded||March 17, 1689|
Don Gil Cabrera y Dávalos & Leonardo Correa De Betancurt
|• Total||150 km2 (60 sq mi)|
|• Density||290/km2 (740/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Colombia Standard Time (UTC-5)|
San Gil is a town municipality in the Department of Santander in northeastern Colombia, located roughly 300 km (192 mi) from Bogotá and 95 km from the department's capital, Bucaramanga. As of 2005, San Gil had a population of roughly 42,000 people within the total municipal area, making it the third largest urban area in the department, after Bucaramanga and Barrancabermeja. Founded in 1689, San Gil is over 300 years old. It was officially named the touristic capital of the region in 2004, thanks to its outdoor activity opportunities such as rafting, caving, kayaking and hiking.
San Gil's history goes back to pre-Columbian times, when it was inhabited by native indigenous societies called the Guane Indians. Spanish conquest during the colonial period nearly eradicated the local tribes. The town was officially founded on March 17, 1689 by Don Gil Cabrera Dávalos and Leonardo Correa de Betancourt. According to official sources, San Gil played an important role during the Colombian independence period. "Comuneros" rebels came from nearby regions, united, traveled to the capital, Bogota, and fought for the nation's independence, a process which occurred during the early 1820s.
In order to have a solid culture, we must read and learn the history and customs of other peoples, other generations, other lands and other civilizations. You will learn about San Gil, the Ruedas, the Silvas and over three hundred years of their history. Lope de Rueda, a distant relative, was a playwright and actor, peculiar founder of the Spanish Theater of the sixteenth century. He was a mentor, idol and friend of Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra. Cervantes describes Lope de Rueda's work thus: "The comedies he embellished and dilated with two or three acts farce of black, ruffian, fool and solecism type of humor. Lope de Rueda would make them with the most excellence and propriety somebody could ever imagine". My father's book, one of the greatest and enduring histories ever written of a Conquistador town and its people, inspired me to attempt a literal translation into an equivalent and approximate English version for those non-Spanish speaking countrymen who may be interested to read this old story translated literally with a dictionary in my hand, trying to best approximate equivalent terminology and prose of early Renaissance Spanish. My wife and son helped me give the sentences some clearer meaning to the translation, since English is my second language and the original Spanish used in the textbook was archaic, with prose and verse which Lope de Rueda could have used in his time. The first edition was printed in the Graficas Salesianas of Mosquera, Colombia in 1968. The Santander Bank which record has been constituted in San Gil in 1960, associated itself with the third centenary of the foundation of the city (1668-1968) sponsoring the publication of the book. This edition can still be found in the major libraries of the Western World. Its history and information describe part of what was popularized in AGUIRRE: THE WRATH OF GOD, a 1972 German movie which was described in Leonard Maltin's Twenty Fifth Anniversary Movie and Video Guide 1995 thus: " A powerful hypnotic tale of a deluded conquistador who leads a group of men away from Pizarro's 1560 South American Expedition in search of seven cities of gold. This dreamlike film was shot on location in remote Amazon jungles". The movie, later inspired the author of the New York Times Notable Book for 1994 AGUIRRE, THE RECREATION OF A SIXTEENTH CENTURY JOURNEY ACROSS SOUTH AMERICA, by Stephen Minta, first published in the United States of America in 1994 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc. Mr Minta passed through the Santander Department, the old Guanenta Region and the City of San Gil in 1987, when he set out to recreate Aguirre's journey. Even though it may not be easy reading, the most approximate poetic translation gives a more broad and universal meaning that this writing has tried to achieve. The books's antonomasia accomplishes its maximum expressive force. The literary culture of the author was at least equal to the majority of his contemporary writers; he possessed a solid humanistic and legal formation. He wrote with deep knowledge of both learned and popular language which he read and heard continuously from the people of San Gil. Here was inspired his affection for folklore, stories and sayings which enriches but impedes the comprehension of his writing.
San Gil's population, as of 2005, was 42,000, (including the rural area). The majority (36,748) reside in the urban area. The population as of 2010 was estimated to be 44,561, an increase of roughly 1,500 people, but showing a tendency to decrease in rural areas, decreasing from 6,240 to a projected 5,601. Ninety-eight percent of houses have access to electricity, 90.3% to running water, and 84.1% to a sewage system.
In 2004, San Gil was named the touristic capital of the region. The area offers several outdoor activity opportunities, such as rafting (grade 1-5), kayaking, hiking, and caving. Local companies offer rafting packages through various rivers depending on skill level. “Parque el Gallineral” is a popular destination with its characteristic moss-covered trees resembling beards. It has a small entrance fee. The park has a number of paths running through its 10-acre area and by the city’s main river, “Rio Fonce”. The park’s name comes from the 1867 characteristic “gallinero” trees planted throughout the whole area. San Gil's main square is called "Parque la Libertad" (Liberty Park), which is the most common meeting place in the town and a hub for night life. The town's main cathedral, built in 1791 and remodeled in 1965, is located in this area. “Parque Nacional del Chicamocha” (Chicamocha National Park or PANACHI) is another Eco-touristic park located roughly 1 hour away from San Gil, placed on a scenic spot in the Chicamocha Canyon. The park has a museum, hiking trails, rafting, paragliding and other outdoor activities. It also has a 6.3 km (3.91 mi) long cable car, one of the longest in the world in its category, offering a ride across the canyon and into the plateau called "Mesa de los Santos". Barichara, a small colonial town roughly 20 minutes away from San Gil, is another popular destination. Situated at the rim of the Chicamocha Canyon, it offers a scenic view across the canyon and the Suarez River. It is known as "one of the prettiest towns in the whole nation" due to its well preserved colonial architecture and stone streets.
Besides tourism, the region's economy relies heavily on agriculture. Products such as tobacco, sugar cane and coffee are commonly grown in farms nearby which are mainly commercialized in the town's main market plaza. One of the region's most historically important entrepreneurs was José María Rueda Gómez, known as "Conde de Cuchicute", who, in spite of his eccentricity, pushed the development of coffee production, and helped establish the first bank and a hydroelectric power plant for the region.
- "Historia de San Gil". Alcaldía de San Gil. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Municipalities of Colombia". Statoids. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Censo general 2005 (Perfil: San Gil, Santander)". DANE. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- Dane. "Boletín Censo General 2005". Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- San Gil Municipality Official Page. "Historia de San Gil (History of San Gil)".
- San Gil Tourism Secretary. "San Gil, Tierra de Aventura". Retrieved 4/12/2012.
- Moomazza. "Adventure Capital of Colombia...San GIl". Retrieved 4/12/2012.
- Caputo, Lorraine. "Parque Natural El Gallineral, City Park". Retrieved 4/12/2012.
- Unknown. "Teleférico sobre el Cañón del Chicamocha. Impresionante obra en un bello lugar". Noticias Caracol (News Channel Official Page). Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- San Gil Municipality. "Economía del Municipio ( Municipality's Economy)". Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- Rodríguez, Gómez, Juan Camilo. "Conde de Cuchicute". Biblioteca Virtual Luis Angel arango. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- Colarte - Antonia Santos statue