"Popayán" Top 5 Page for this destination Popayán by mircaskirca

Popayán Travel Guide: 106 reviews and 381 photos

Ciudad Blanca

Nicknamed La Ciudad Blanca (The White City) due to its whitewashed houses, Popayán is the architectural treasure and one of the most beautiful colonial cities of Colombia. It is situated in the lower Andes at an altitude of 1.737 metres. Founded in 1837 by conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar, it developed as an important stopover for traffic between Quito and Cartagena.

Its narrow streets are lined with two-storey buildings constructed in rococo Andalusian-style. There are many plazas and churches to explore and several interesting museums and galleries. Although the capital of the department of Cauca, Popayán somehow retains its relaxed small town feel. But it really comes alive during Semana Santa (Holly Week) with the largest celebrations in Colombia. It's the main university town of the region and there's a young, sociable feel to the city. Popayán has a lively café culture with many excellent cafés where friendly locals usually meet, sipping their coffee and catching up with friends. Pleasant climate makes Popayán a very enjoyable place to visit all year round.

Much of the Popayán's original splendor was destroyed in the earthquake in March 1983. Massive reconstructions followed, restoring the town to its former colonial look though you can still see the damage in some parts.

  • Last visit to Popayán: Dec 2008
  • Intro Updated Apr 2, 2009
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Reviews (21)

Comments (12)

  • Jun 9, 2010 at 10:58 PM

    this has been a wonderful find! the food in this place sounds amazing, as are the beautiful white buildings. my thirst for colonial towns continues to grow, i really cant wait for peru now, and one day, colombia too perhaps ;)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Oct 28, 2009 at 1:47 PM

    Sounds like poor Popayán has had more than its share of earthquakes. Good that your little Cootranshuila bus didn't get stuck in the mud on those dirt roads.

  • tratoria's Profile Photo
    Aug 3, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    Beatiful pictures.

  • DoreenDe's Profile Photo
    Jul 10, 2009 at 3:48 PM

    Happy belated birthday, Mira. Colombia sounds beautiful, we can not wait to go & your pages are an inspiration :)

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2009 at 7:00 PM

    Good to hear they have canelazo. I had it once in Quito. Nice on a chilly night. But aguardiente caucano sounds even better. Great detailed travel info and as always invaluable local food tips.

  • luwan's Profile Photo
    May 30, 2009 at 1:44 PM

    amo salsa!

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2009 at 2:12 AM

    What a lovely city! The cathedral, San Francisco & other churches look beautiful, but I think I like best the "ordinary" streets with their wonderful architecture & your descriptions of the cafe culture & local delicacies

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Mar 27, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    I liked Popayan very much too and your tips bring back many good memories! I also stayed at Hostel Trail, it is a good place! Great tips Mira!

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Mar 26, 2009 at 11:17 PM

    Oh wow, it was so worth the wait :-))) Isn't December a fascinating time to visit South America? Colombia even more, the decorations are wonderful!! I love your perfect find with the hostel and the city of gastronomy idea :-)) Oh and the party bus :-)

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Mar 26, 2009 at 11:26 AM

    Popayán looks like a very interesting place to visit if the earthquakes behave! Puente del Humilladero was my favourite scene. I'd guess you had a fabulous time enjoying both your hostal and the various meals you experienced judging from your tips!

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