ColombiaOne.comCultureMongui, Colombia: The Town of the Balls

Mongui, Colombia: The Town of the Balls

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Mongui Colombia
Mongui, Boyaca, is the cradle of the ball in Colombia. Credit: Luis Ospino/Colombia One

In the heart of the Andes Mountains, within the Colombian department of Boyaca, lies the picturesque town of Mongui. This charming place is not only renowned for its stunning colonial architecture and breathtaking landscapes but also for a particular and fascinating tradition that has earned it the endearing nickname, “The Town of the Balls.”

Monguí’s history is deeply intertwined with the colonial era of Colombia. Founded in 1601, this town boasts well-preserved colonial architecture that transports visitors back in time. Its cobbled streets, whitewashed facades, and red-tiled roofs create an atmosphere of timeless beauty.

Mongui Colombia
Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Mongui. Credit: Luis Ospino/Colombia One

One of Mongui’s most iconic features is the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Mongui. This architectural masterpiece, constructed in the 17th century, stands as a testament to the town’s rich heritage. Its baroque design and exquisite interior have earned it the title of a National Monument.

The Story Behind “The Town of the Balls”

Mongui’s unique moniker, “The Town of the Balls” (in Spanish, “El Pueblo de los Balones”), may seem curious at first glance. However, this title is not about spherical objects but rather a celebration of the town’s deep passion for football, or as it’s known in Latin America, “futbol.”

Mongui Colombia
Balls at a local store in Mongui. Credit: Luis Ospino/Colombia One

The story begins in the early 20th century when a group of locals decided to create their own football team. With great enthusiasm, they formed the Club Deportivo La Igualdad. The sport quickly gained popularity, and Monguí became known for its thriving football culture.

What sets Mongui apart is its tradition of crafting footballs entirely by hand. Local artisans skillfully cut and stitch leather to create these unique balls. This craftsmanship has become a symbol of Mongui’s commitment to the sport. The footballs produced here are highly sought after for their quality and authenticity.

The Passion for Football

Mongui’s passion for football extends far beyond the crafting of balls. The town’s residents wholeheartedly support their local teams, and football matches are lively events that bring the community together. Visitors to Mongui are likely to witness an impromptu game in the central square and can enjoy the lively atmosphere in one of the local cafes.

Mongui Colombia
Miniature balls for key chains, one of the many souvenirs that can be bought in the town. Credit: Luis Ospino/Colombia One

While the town may be small, its love for football knows no bounds. Mongui has produced talented athletes who have gone on to represent Colombia on the international stage, further fueling the town’s devotion to the sport.

Exploring Mongui’s Beauty

Beyond football, Mongui offers a wealth of natural beauty for visitors to explore. The surrounding region is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Hiking trails lead to pristine landscapes, including waterfalls and lush forests. The Paramo de Oceta, a high-altitude moorland, beckons adventurers with its stunning vistas.

Mongui Colombia
Calicanto O Morro river right next to the town. Credit: Luis Ospino/Colombia One

As you stroll through Mongui’s streets, you’ll encounter artisan workshops where skilled craftsmen create not only footballs but also intricate textiles and pottery. These pieces make for unique souvenirs of your visit.


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