Mountains gave way to valleys, plains and semi-desert as our coach wound it’s way through the Boyacá region to Villa de Leyva, a colonial town frozen in time. Home to several heroes of the revolutionary wars, these days the town was a weekend getaway for wealthy Bogotanos, the grand central plaza dotted with bars and restaurants.
A short distance from town stood a series of ancient stone monoliths, used by the Muisca to discern the seasons. To highlight the importance of fertility, these towering statues are shaped like giant phalluses, horrifying the bewildered and deeply religious conquistadors as they made their way here from the coast – it is for this reason the site is named ‘little hell’.
We spent the day wandering the white-washed streets, then sat by the cobbled square to watch the sun set below the vast hills surrounding town. As darkness fell and the plaza was gently illuminated by flickering lanterns, we ate dinner to the sound of flamenco guitar and strongly contemplated staying here forever.
The cobbled central plaza of Villa de Leyva