Villa de Leyva

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Villa de Leyva
The local church as seen from the Plaza Mayor of Villa de Leyva
The local church as seen from the Plaza Mayor of Villa de Leyva
Flag of Villa de Leyva
Official seal of Villa de Leyva
Nickname(s): Villa de Nuestra Señora
de Santa Maria de Leyva
Location of the town of Villa de Leyva and the Leyva municipality in Boyacá Department.
Location of the town of Villa de Leyva and the Leyva municipality in Boyacá Department.
Region Andean Region (Colombia)
Department Boyacá Department*
Foundation June 12, 1572
 • Mayor German Sanchez Pereira
 • Total 128 km2 (49 sq mi)
Elevation 2,000 m (7,000 ft)
 • Total 9,645

Villa de Leyva is a colonial town and municipality, in the Boyacá department of Colombia, part of the subregion of the Ricaurte Province. The town is located some 40 km west of Tunja and has a population of about 9,600 people. Villa de Leyva is considered one of the finest colonial villages of Colombia, and was declared a National Monument on December 17, 1954 to preserve its architecture. It is located in a high altitude valley at 2,144 m altitude where fossils from the Mesozoic and the Cretaceous abound.

It was founded on June 12, 1572 by Hernán Suarez de Villalobos and named after the first president of the New Kingdom of Granada, Andrés Díaz Venero de Leiva.

Among the main areas of interests are the Plaza Mayor (Main Square) where besides the Church, many restaurants and stores selling some handcrafted art pieces. The main square and most of the streets around the downtown are made of stones, a recreation of the colonial times.

Near the town itself and about 1 km away from the main square is "El museo Museo paleontológico" de la Universidad Nacional and a 30 minutes drive away from the main square several attractions can be found, an ostrich farm, a museum (El Fósil) and an old astronomic observatory made of phallic stones ("El Infiernito", for "little hell" in Spanish). There is also a group of seven waterfalls named "La Piriquera" some 15 km away from the town.

The El Fósil (Spanish for the fossil) museum has an almost complete kronosaurus fossil on display, in the same place in which it was found in 1977.

Additionally, there are several festivals held throughout the year that attract international and national tourists alike. Thousands of people gather in the main plaza to celebrate the gastronomical festival, the water festival, the tree festival, etc.

One of Villa de Leyva's main attractions is the town's variety of exquisite gastronomical pleasures. Restaurants serving all kinds of international dishes, including typical Italian, French and Spanish foods, can be found all over the town.

Here in Boyacá, the green beauty of the landscapes is a sheer joy for the senses, and the people of the region are kind and friendly, welcoming visitors in each town. Theregional cuisine is varied and delicious. This is one of the destinations in Colombia that surprises people because of its variety and beauty. The land of beautiful old temples and churches, fascinating natural reserves, a geography that is apt for adventure, sports and activities, as well as townships full of tradition and history.

The archeological treasures, the colonial architecture and the religious fervor of the local people of Villa de Leyva make this colonial town a magical destination to be explored. Its proximity to the cities of Bogotá and Tunja and the easily accessible roads make for comfortable and secure travel in the midst of a generous Andean landscape.

Villa de Leyva in popular culture[edit]

Panoramic view of Villa de Leyva's main square.
  • A Spanish-language soap opera version of the Zorro story has been filmed here, as of 2007, by the Colombian production company RTI, distributed in the United States by Telemundo.
  • Antonio Ricaurte, Captain in Bolivar's army, active in the war of independence of Venezuela and Colombia, was born in Villa de Leyva.
  • House of the first Congress, The house were the first congress of the united provinces of Nueva Granada, was established on October 4, 1812, is located on the north corner of the main plaza. It is currently the site of the municipal council.


Coordinates: 5°38′N 73°32′W / 5.633°N 73.533°W / 5.633; -73.533