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.
Coordinates: 5°38′N 73°32′W / 5.633°N 73.533°W / 5.633; -73.533Coordinates: 5°38′N 73°32′W / 5.633°N 73.533°W / 5.633; -73.533
Region Andean
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 40 km west of Tunja and has a population of about 9,600 people. It is "three and a half hours by car or bus from Bogotá."[1] Villa de Leyva is considered one of the finest colonial villages of Colombia, and was declared a National Monument on December 17, 1954[1] to preserve its architecture. It is located at a high altitude valley of 2,144 meters (7034.12 feet). Many fossils from the Mesozoic and the Cretaceous have been found in the area.


It was founded on June 12, 1572[1] by Hernán Suarez de Villalobos and named after the first president of the New Kingdom of Granada, Andrés Díaz Venero de Leiva.

Attractions and points of interest[edit]

One of the main areas of interests is the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), which is "one of the largest town squares in South America,"[1] where the town Church, many restaurants and stores are located. The main square and most of the streets near downtown are paved with stones to recreate the paving during colonial times.

Near the town itself and about 1 km away from the main square is "El museo Museo paleontológico" de la Universidad Nacional. There are several attractions located about 30 minutes drive from downtown, including 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" 15 km away from the town.

The El Fósil (Spanish for the fossil) museum, about three miles from town, has an almost complete kronosaurus fossil on display,[1] in the same place in which it was found in 1977.

There are several festivals held throughout the year, including a gastronomical festival, the water festival, the tree festival, the Kite Festival in August, the onion beauty pageant in October, and the Festival of the Lights in December.

One of Villa de Leyva's main attractions is the town's many restaurants serving international cuisine, including Italian, French and Spanish dishes.

The town and Boyacá region are known for the green beauty of the landscapes.

Panoramic view of Villa de Leyva's main square.

Villa de Leyva in popular culture[edit]

  • Part of the film Cobra Verde by Werner Herzog was filmed here.
  • 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.
  • Florentino Ariza, the main character of the book and film Love in the Time of Cholera spends part of his life here.
  • 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.


  1. ^ a b c d e David Carr (October 22, 2009). "Villa de Leyva, a Graceful Window on Colonial Colombia". NY Times. Retrieved June 18, 2014. 

External Links[edit]