ColombiaOne.comTravelSanta Fe de Antioquia: A Journey through Colombia's Colonial Past

Santa Fe de Antioquia: A Journey through Colombia’s Colonial Past

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Santa Fe de Antioquia
Santa Fe de Antioquia is an enchanting destination, where history, culture, and tradition converge. Credit: Diego Tirira/CC BY-SA 2.0

An hour and a half from Medellin, Santa Fe de Antioquia beckons with its colonial charm and rich historical tapestry. This Heritage Town of Colombia is an exquisite repository of the country’s colonial and republican heritage, holding a treasure trove of historical artifacts and architectural marvels.

Santa Fe de Antioquia’s history dates back to 1541 when it was founded by Marshal Jorge Robledo, a Spanish explorer. This town served as the first capital of the Antioquia province and witnessed centuries of growth, culture, and transformation. Today, it stands as a living testament to Colombia’s colonial and republican past.

Colonial Architectural Marvels

The town’s architecture is a showcase of colonial splendor. Strolling through the cobblestone streets, you’ll be transported to a bygone era. Whitewashed facades, wooden balconies, and clay-tiled roofs characterize the colonial-style buildings. The Santa Barbara Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece, dominates the town square with its ornate wooden altars and frescoes.

Santa Fe de Antioquia is adorned with historical landmarks that provide glimpses into its rich past. The Old Bridge, known as Puente Viejo, is one such icon, dating back to the early 19th century. It’s the oldest suspension bridge in the Americas, reminiscent of an era of engineering marvels.

Santa Fe de Antioquia
The Western Bridge that connects the municipalities of Olaya and Santa Fe de Antioquia, to the east and west of the Cauca River, respectively. Credit: Juan Sebastian Echeverry Grisales/CC BY-SA 3.0

The town’s central meeting place, Plaza Mayor Simon Bolivar Park, is a beautifully landscaped square. Here, you can relax under shady trees, admire the gardens, and learn about the town’s water management history through a captivating fountain.

The Heart of Worship

Santa Fe de Antioquia has numerous churches that narrate its deep religious heritage. The Church of Santa Barbara, built in 1728, is the oldest in the region. Nearby, the Church of Our Lady of Chiquinquira, in neoclassical style, adorns Plazuela Martinez Pardo. You’ll also find the Church of San Pedro Claver, the Church of San Martin de Porres, the Temple of Jesus Nazareno, and the Temple of Nuestra Señora del Carmen.

For a deeper understanding of Santa Fe’s past, you can explore its museums. The Juan del Corral Museum safeguards the town’s historical heritage with its valuable collection of pieces and documents. The Francisco Cristobal Toro Religious Art Museum exhibits colonial-era decorative elements, including golden artifacts, paintings, and two rooms dedicated to Holy Week and Mother Laura, Colombia’s only saint.

Immersive Experiences

For a unique experience, embark on a horseback riding tour to the House of the Two Palms. As you ride through the region’s beautiful landscapes, you’ll not only enjoy the scenic vistas but also gain insights into the local flora and fauna. The tour concludes at a typical “paisa hacienda,” allowing you to explore the region’s rustic architecture and traditional way of life.

Warm Welcomes and Cultural Festivals

What truly sets Santa Fe de Antioquia apart is its warm and welcoming community. As a visitor, you’ll be greeted like family, with locals ready to offer guidance, companionship, and a taste of their traditions.

The town’s cultural events add vibrancy to the local scene. The Tamarind Festivals in August celebrate the exotic fruit, offering exhibitions, dance performances, and more. In December, the Film and Video Festival presents open-air screenings, fostering discussions on the world of cinema. During Holy Week, the town comes alive with unique customs and traditions, allowing you to immerse yourself in the local faith.

Don’t miss the Festivities of the Little Devils at the end of December, a lively celebration rooted in colonial times when slaves emulated their masters, by sporting masks and capes. The festivities continue today, filled with playful pranks and the donning of hand-painted masks.


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