If it were not for the cold climate, upon arriving at Villa de Leyva, you would think that you are in the heart of Andalucía. The impression is very similar. White façades, wooden windows and doors, and lovely balconies with a Moorish influence are the characteristic accents of the Hispanic tradition of the town.
Villa de Leyva was founded in 1572 and built according to Spanish architectural norms. Even the location of the city – in a valley – seems to be an emotional encounter of the New World with sites in Spain. A long history of Mediterranean cities helped the conquistadors establish the central plaza and the network of streets. However, the heart of the city undoubtedly belongs to the department of Boyacá. This is where the grace and the character of Villa de Leyva lie.
During the week, it’s easy to spend hours ambling along the narrow streets lined by red-tile-roofed, whitewashed houses, many featuring balconies decorated with flower pots overflowing with bougainvilleas and geraniums. Abundant fossils from the surrounding area are embedded into plaster walls, and massive front doors are flanked by carvings, some echoing the occupation of the original residents. Once you leave the old city and venture into the more modern part of town, don’t be surprised to see a yard full of chickens or goats next to an Internet cafe.
Evenings in town are equally seductive. On a Thursday night in July on the plaza, a group was gathered around several guitars and a harmonica at Terraza, a patio bar where Europeans and Colombians gathered to drink rum and warble Spanish love songs.