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VILLA DE LEYVA  -  COLOMBIA


Villa de Leyva (sometimes spelled Villa de Leiva) is a beautiful small colonial town in the Boyacá, located to the east of Bogota some 40 kilometers west of the city of Tuna. With a population of about 12,000 people, Villa de Leyva is considered to be one of the finest colonial villages of Colombia, and was declared a National Monument in 1954 to preserve its architecture and history. At an altitude of 2,144 meters above sea level, it is located in a region where fossils from the Mesozoic and the Cretaceous abound.
 
The architecture of Villa de Leyva is of Spanish style. When visiting  you will be able to observe this in the construction of most of the local houses in the village. Wonderful balconies, arcs and main doors (it is possible to appreciate this in the old buildings such as Casa del Primer Congreso, Casa de Don Antonio Nariño, Casa de La Real Fabrica de Licores, Claustro de San Agustín). Villa de Leyva is a place of inspiration to poets and writers. They can find peace in its stone paved streets or just contemplating the majestic main square, unique in Latin-America. 

 
Founded
in June 12, 1572 the city was named after the first president of the New Kingdom of Granada, Andrés Díaz Venero de Leyva.
 
In the city the main areas of interests are the Plaza Mayor (Main Square) where besides the Church we find many restaurants and stores selling some handcrafted art pieces. Most of the streets around the downtown are made of stones, similar to colonial times.
 
Near Villa de Leyva, about a 30 minute drive away from the main square, we find several attractions, such as: an ostrich farm, a museum (el fosil) and an old astronomic observatory made of phallic stones ("El Infernito", for "little hell" in Spanish). There is also a group of seven waterfalls named "La Periquera" some 15 km away from the town. 

 
A variety of fossils have been found around Villa de Leyva. These have been deemed important because of their sizes and their very relevant contributions made to paleontological investigations. Found in 1945, The Plesiosaurus is more than 115 million years old, and is part of the National Geological Museum’s collection. It is also the finding place of The Ichthyosaurus, a marine reptile that lived between 110 and 115 million years ago, which is 8 meters long and without a tail, and is very similar to another similar specimen found in Australia. These discoveries show that Villa de Leyva was immersed by the sea before the Andes Mountains were formed.
 
The
El Fósil (Spanish for the fossil) museum has an almost complete kronosaurus fossil in display, in the same place in which it was found in 1977.


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