Villa de Leyva: Historical and colonial jewelVilla de Leyva is a perfectly preserved colonial-era town just 3 hours distance at the north of Bogota, in the Andean mountains.
It is considered by most local and foreign tourists an incredibly beautiful colonial town, with decent tourist infrastructure but not overrun by tourism yet.
You can also elect to stay in a finca or farm. Make sure you make your reservations early for weekends in season and for major holidays.
Restaurants offer local favorites, fast food choices and international cuisine. There are also vegetarian restaurants, and if you trust your stomach, try some of the offerings for typical fast food snacks from street vendors.
Leyva ( as most locals name the town ) has been preserved almost perfectly: Cobblestoned streets, red-tiled roofs, houses are whitewashed, balconies and private courtyards retain the heritage. The town is small, but the surrounding area will make you want to stay and hike and perhaps camp out.
The weather is nice (fresh at night, 18 degrees C average).
Most tourists here are Colombians, people from Bogota (during the weekend, the streets, restaurants, places to stay and shops are crowded). During the week you'll find the town nice and quiet.
You can find also a lot of foreigners ( germans, french and Americans among other nationalities) who have choosen Villa de Leyva as their retirement home. Elvis Presley's drummer Bill Lynn was one of the famous residents of the town, where he passed his latets days.
It is also an area of paleontological richness. There is a famous tourist attraction called "El Fosil", a reasonably complete kronosaurus fossil, a 120-million-year-old prehistoric marine reptile resembling an overgrown crocodile.
The fossil is 7m long (the animal was about 12m long but its tail hasn't survived). It's a baby kronosaurus (the adult animals were far larger) and it remains in the place where it was found.
Villa de Leyva's most distinct feature is the huge cobblestoned plaza in front of the parish church. The Plaza Mayor is the largest of its kind in latinamerica.
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