Colombian Colonial Towns: Barichara and Guane

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Colombian Colonial Towns: Barichara and Guane

Barichara, Colombia


Barichara, Colombia

Barichara has been called the most beautiful town in Colombia, and it’s really hard to argue that claim. It is gorgeous. Beautiful wide flat stone streets afford views of farms and ranches on the hills surrounding the town. This is a quiet and pleasant place with a peaceful, bohemian atmosphere that reminded me of the villages that I walked through on Spain’s Camino de Santiago.


Barichara was founded in 1741 and its real treasure is its pristine colonial architecture of white-washed buildings and red-tiled roofs. I spent an hour or two just walking the streets which have the occasional car or motor bike that passes. When I grew hungry I popped into an unmarked four-table restaurant in a family’s courtyard: the son serving, the mother taking the cash, and the father grilling meat. After lunch I stopped for a quick espresso before visiting two smaller stone churches and walking to Guane.


If you have been looking for the perfect place to write your novel, look no further. Barichara is the place for you.



Colombian Colonial Towns

View from the cemetery in Guane, Colombia

Walking the Camino Real to Guane


The 180 year-old chunky stone trail leads for two hours to Guane, a sleepy little one-horse village. After descending off the edge of Barichara, you wind your way down switchbacks and through horse farms, small cattle ranches, and few homesteads, occasionally getting a glance of the mountains and canyon in the distance. I didn’t pass a single soul the whole way.


I stayed in Guane for three hours and it felt like an eternity. The town is lost in time and consists of only the few blocks that surround the main square. There is a church, a museum, a couple restaurants, and some souvenir shops around the central plaza. It rained while I was there and so I took shelter in a small café trying the local chicha, a fermented beverage made from maize. You shouldn’t leave without also tasting some goat and the slightly alcoholic sabajon, made from goat’s milk (similar to Bailey’s Irish Cream).



View from the Camino Real, from Barichara to Guane

From the cemetery above town, there are stunning views towards the mountains looming over the Rio Suarez. From here you can see the Chicamocha Canyon where the route of a three-day trek leads. The trek starts in Cabrera, passing through Barichara, Guane, Villanueva, Jordan, and finally ending in Los Santos. There is food and accommodation in each of the towns. It’s a great way to combine the best of Colombia: colonial history, peaceful countryside, friendly people, and beautiful topography.


See more photos of Barichara and of Guane and the Camino Real.


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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 20 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. Nicolo Famiglietti says:

    An informative post. Thank you, Stephen.
    Did you meet anyone to talk to along the way? I’ve read two other bog posts regarding Barichara and Guane and get the impression that one doesn’t bump into much in the way of company.
    Apart from the colonial architecture, how would you rate this destination for a documentary/travel photographer?
    I’ve posted my photography site URL in the box labeled “Website,” so you can see what sort of photography I do.
    Finally, any talk of the dengue fever epidemic that swept through Santander in 2012?

  2. Stephen Bugno says:

    Hi Nicolo, No, I don’t remember meeting too many people along the way to Guane. Yes, I think Barichara might be a good place to visit for a person with your interests. It’s been a while since you left this comment. Have you been yet? What did you think?

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