Popayan is the center of the Cauca department and at the same time one of the most beautiful and well-preserved colonial cities in Colombia. The city was founded on the slope of the Purace volcano by the Spanish adventurer Sebastian de Belalkazar in 1537. Located halfway between Bogota and Quito, it soon became a major center for the cultivation and processing of sugar cane. The temperate climate attracted many settlers, and the city grew into an important religious and commercial center with many churches, monasteries, seminaries and prosperous companies. Today you can see the churches of Iglesia de San Francisco, Iglesia de Santo Domingo, the church and convent of San Agustin, Iglesia de La Ermita (1546 – the oldest church in the city), Cathedral (rebuilt after the 1983 earthquake, when the entire city center was almost completely destroyed, and all the restoration and restoration work was carried out by the residents of the city themselves), Iglesia de Carmen, Iglesia de Encarnacion, Iglesia de San Jose, as well as the Chapel de Belen, from the walls of which a beautiful panorama of the city and its surroundings opens. Noteworthy are the Casa Museo Mosquera Museum with a collection of samples of colonial art, a collection of religious art in the Museo de Arte Religioso (located in the building of an old Franciscan monastery), Casa Museo Negre (modern art), the museum of the poet Guillermo Valencia, the Museum Natural History, University of Cauca, Morro de Tulcan building with a statue of Belalcazar, Humiladero Bridge with its brick arches.
Northeast of the city is the village of Silva, famous for its Guambiano Indian community and a weekly market (on Tuesdays) where you can get to know the local Indians and their traditional clothing, as well as buy handicrafts or the freshest local fruits.
Just 2.5 km from the city, on the banks of the Magdalena River, is the largest archaeological park of stone sculptures in South America – San Agustin (included in the UNESCO World Heritage List). Here, on an area of about 310 sq. km, scattered about 500 megalithic sculptures from 20 centimeters to 7 meters high, dating, according to various estimates, from the period I-XIV centuries. n. e. In the Bosque de las Estatuas (“Forest of Statues”), 35 more figures are placed, a convenient walking path is laid between them, and in Fuente de Lavapates (“The Source of Ablution”, apparently the main ritual place of the necropolis), a ritual pool with traces of numerous sacrifices. The rocky valley of the park is all cut through by canals and reservoirs. The park also has a small archaeological museum with an extensive collection of pottery and cult objects found in these places. A little further down the river rises another archaeological complex – El Altos de los Idolos (“Hill of Idols”), guarded by stone sculptures, and even further north – the famous necropolises of Alto de Lavapatas and La Caquire, with their painted statues carved into sheer cliffs from a single stone. To the east of Popayana lies one of the most picturesque national parks in the country – Parque Nacional Puras. Within the boundaries of the park lie the volcano of the same name (4758 m), numerous lakes, waterfalls and hot springs, and the fumarole lakes of Termales de San Juan are saturated with sulfur, and the Pilimbal springs form hot streams that merge into small thermal lakes with a reputation for healing. The Cauca Department is also home to the Tierradentro (Inland) National Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the second most important archaeological site in Colombia after San Agustín. Within the park, which occupies a vast territory in the middle of a narrow mountain valley, there are about a hundred sculptures and caves, the largest of which are Segovia, El Duende, Alto de San Andres and El Aguacate, in which many burial chambers decorated with complex geometric designs. Surprisingly, no settlements of the pre-Columbian era were found near the necropolis, which suggests that the mysterious builders of Tierradentro (approximately VI-X centuries AD) were nomadic people, and flocked here to perform rituals from all over the territory of the Cordilleras.
Barranquilla is an industrial, port city and municipality, is the largest port and industrial city of the Colombian Caribbean region and the fourth largest city in Colombia. The city of Barranquilla, also known as Curramba La Bella, is the capital of the Department of Atlântico, located in the northwestern part of Colombia, about 13 km upstream from the mouth of the Magdalena River and 80 km east of Cartagena. The city was founded in 1620 as a trading post on the banks of the Magdalena.
The city is proud of its modernity and industrial development, the first airport in South America was also built in Barranquilla. Being a major port, Barranquilla attracted many emigrants during the first and second world wars. There is also a large proportion of the Arab population, immigrants from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine who came to the country in the 30-50s of the last century. Their presence had a significant impact on the development of regional cuisine and architecture. In Barranquilla, you can see many houses in Arabic and Moorish style. Popular singer Shakira was born here.
The main attractions of the city are the Universities of Atlantico (1941) and Del Norte (1966), a beautiful zoo, the Anthropological Museum, the Museum of Natural History, which protects the relic wet forests and swamps of the Salamanca Island National Park (area 21,000 hectares). The visiting card of Barranquilla is the famous El Joselito Carnival or “Baranquilla Carnival”, usually celebrated 4 days before the Day of Repentance, and widely known as one of the largest carnivals in the world. This carnival is considered an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by decree of UNESCO. It takes place every year at the end of January and at the beginning of February for a week. It begins with “pre-holiday” events, as if warming up the audience, and ends on a very high note of “carnival ecstasy”. Orchestra competitions, dance evenings-marathons.